• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Themes in the play Death of a Salesman

Extracts from this document...


Themes in the play Death of a Salesman Throughout the play the Lomans, especially Willy, cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. This is the major underlying theme throughout the play and is also a source of conflict in the play. Willy cannot see who he and his sons are. He believes that they are great men who have what it takes to be successful and beat the business world. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. In reality, Willy and his sons are not, and cannot, be successful. We can see that this is true because Willy refuses to acknowledge that he is a fine carpenter and continues to persuade himself that he is a good salesman and so continues to live a life of lies, memories and dreams. ...read more.


He worked hard but not at the right things, this shows us that Willy is ignorant. Originally, Biff shared Willy's illusions of success and greatness, but by the end of the play he has become completely disillusioned. Once Biff comes to fully understand his place in life, he says to Willy, "I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you." Willy, however, has lived too long in his dreams and cannot understand what Biff is trying to say. If Willy had to face reality, he would then be forced to examine the affair he had in Boston, his philosophy, and all of his illusions. Instead, he prefers to live in the past. And now Biff, who is trying to confront the truth about himself, finds that he is completely unable to communicate with his father, unless it is on his terms. ...read more.


Howard, the young boss of Willy's company, represents the impersonal and ruthless nature of capitalist Enterprise. When Willy goes in to ask Howard if he can be transferred to a job in New York, Howard refuses to help him even though Willy has been working for the company for several decades and was good friends with his father. When Willy asks why he cannot be reassigned, Howard replies, "It's a business, kid, and everybody's gotta pull his own weight," thus demonstrating Howard's cold indifference to Willy's situation and concentration on profit. Inadequacy is another one of the themes in the play. Happy constantly feels that he is inadequate, but only because his father is constantly comparing him to Biff, Willy 'favourite'. So he comes up with stories of how he will get married and that he has lost weight, just so he can get some attention ahead of Biff. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Death of a Salesman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Death of a Salesman essays

  1. Death Of A Salesman - Play Review.

    refuses makes us feel that Willy is almost lazy and seems unfazed by his situation.

  2. Death of a Salesman - plot summary

    Biff is crushed when Biff finds out that Willy is having an affair with the woman. Biff gets very upset about the woman "Don't touch me, you - liar!" then just after he also says "You fake! You phony little fake!"

  1. Death Of A Salesman.

    as someone who is much more important than what he is, Biff challenges him at this and Happy says, "Well, I'm practically-." Happy has bad business values and sleeps with the girlfriends of his employers. Willy has always rejected Happy; in one of the flashbacks Willy has, Happy says, "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?"

  2. Death of a Salesman

    Willy tries to explain the situation, but Biff won't listen. He accuses Willy of giving away Linda's stockings and calls him a liar and a fake. Willy is then brought out of his illusion by the waiter at the restaurant.

  1. Death of the Salesman - Discuss the importance of the scene in which Howard ...

    This scene in Howard's office is the scene that we actually see Willy at work and how much he has failed as a salesman as he can't even self himself. Not only does he not sell himself for an office job he also gets fired altogether making a mockery out of his skill as a salesman.

  2. Betrayed or Betrayer? Discuss theses two aspects of Willy Loman's character and comment on ...

    She promise Willy ' from now on, whenever you come to the office, I'll see that you go right through to the buyers'. This is to ensure she can keep receiving gifts from Willy. 'Where's my stocking's? You promised me stockings, Willy!'

  1. Failures in Death of a Salesman

    Indicating that Willy will not survive in the financial world. Even after all that Willy went through with his own failure and his sons he still does not understand why it happened to them. He believes that the only keys to success are contacts and popularity.

  2. The Death Of a Salesman.

    Biff is the son of Willy and Linda, he has never really been able to reach his full potential and even now when he is reaching his the middle of his life, he remains unsure of himself. Willy has successfully managed to build up a structure of self-deceit, which has obviously stopped his son from realising his strengths and weaknesses.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work