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An Analysis of the Final Scenes of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller

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Introduction

20th CENTURY DRAMA AN ANALYSIS OF THE FINAL SCENES OF "DEATH OF A SALESMAN" BY ARTHUR MILLER. Throughout "Death of a Salesman," it was very clear to me that the play was an excellent representation of the idea of "The American Dream," amongst other broader themes. This notion, as I understand it, relates to the belief that there are countless opportunities for everyone to reach out and grasp, no matter who they are or where they come from. The main characters of the play; Willy Loman, Linda Loman, Biff Loman, Happy Loman and their next door neighbour Charley, all seem to have very different ideas about this belief. In my opinion, this allows the reader (or audience) to relate to whichever character shares their views, making the play very appealing. The play offers a wider insight into a social system in which the Loman family finds themselves. Willy and Linda have had to work incredibly hard to keep themselves afloat over the years, and are justly proud of their achievement of paying off their 25 year mortgage. However, a stark contrast is highlighted between Willy and Howard, his boss. Willy has worked at the company for his whole career, and even names Howard when he is born for his father. However, when Howard has grown up he inherits all of his father's wealth and the company. ...read more.

Middle

We can see, for example, 'with promise' for Willy and crucially 'almost uttering her fear' for Linda. The fact that Willy dies at the point when he is most proud of himself and of Biff, least delusional about his "social standing", and crucially the happiest that he has been for 17 years, is a fitting end to his life, in my opinion. However, in my opinion, possibly the most moving and revealing scene in the play is "REQUIEM." This scene, set after Willy's funeral, highlights the true feelings of each of the characters from the play. It also highlights some revealing comparisons between them, as well as between dreams and reality. The first comparison, in this case a hypocrisy, which we see is from Happy. He was seen earlier in the play to be far more concerned with himself and his 'lousy rotten whores', as Linda calls them, than with the wellbeing of his father. However, he is now "deeply angered" by Willy's suicide, saying 'he had no right to do that. There was no necessity for it. We would have helped him'. In my opinion, Happy seems to think that as long as he shows some sort of feeling now, all will be forgiven, even though he denied that Willy was his father earlier. ...read more.

Conclusion

Earlier, in the play, we are told that nothing will grow in the dusty back yard because of the 'hard' apartment blocks that crowd the house. These apartments represent to me what might be called "The American Reality", where this sense of adventure beyond the constraints of urban, restricted and repetitive life, is drowned out. As I mentioned before, this sense of adventure is personified by the character Ben, who had been restrained while Willy had his job and was settled in his lifestyle. However, towards the end of his life, Ben re-emerges in a last desperate attempt to break through the barriers and restraints that have been set. On the stage at the end of the play, the scene is one of darkness and of false hope in my opinion. It basically sums up the harsh reality of Willy's life. This is done using the flute, which is present throughout the play, and to me represents the hiding of reality behind a false dream, such as when Willy returns to previous memories, when all was good, or so he could pretend. This flute appears in harsh contrast to the cold, hard reality of the daunting apartment blocks. These blocks represent the oppressive uniformity which has spelt the end for men like Willy Loman, men with character and spirit, not men who wanted to follow the same, stereotyped dream. Ironically, however, this is exactly what he had found himself doing for so many years. ...read more.

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