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Death Of A Salesman - To what extent can the fate of Willy Loman be linked to the social values, which surround him?

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Introduction

To what extent can the fate of Willy Loman be linked to the social values, which surround him? Willy Loman's constant daydreaming in Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman", leads to very severe consequences. Willy never really does anything to help the situation; he just escapes into the past, whether intentionally or not, to happier times where problems were scarce. He uses this escape as if it were a narcotic, and as the play progresses, the reader learns that it can be a fatal, because of its addictiveness and it's deadliness, however some people argue that his downfall was associated with the social issues which enclosed him. Social values can be described are the norms that all people follow, which varies from culture to culture, that is to say that they are the ideas generally accepted by everyone. Many contributing factors define the social values in which Willy Loman lived; a major factor was the "American Dream". Willy Loman was a believer in the American Dream, this dream caused him to think that he could do well in life and "become a success". Willy wants his life to be a success but he feels he is a failure and he has to lie to impress his family, "I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. ...read more.

Middle

Happy says (talking about Willy) "He just wants you to make good, that's all." And later on Biff says "this Saturday - just for you, I'm going to break through". Willy's sons do love him but in some ways they just humour him to keep him happy. Another value that seems to be rife in Willy's life is ageism. Willy is regarded, by some people, as useless. When Willy asks if he could not travel anymore for his occupation his boss is stunned and says "Not travel! Well, what'll you do?" Willy is patronised by his boss, who is young enough to be Willy's son but refers to Willy as "kid", and he tells Willy "I think you need a good long rest." One of the values that this shows is that the Lomans are living in a "throw away" society. This is what is happening to Willy. When Howard finds a new gadget he says "I tell you, Willy, I'm gonna take my camera, and my bandsaw, and all my hobbies, and out they go". Howard seems to apply this to Willy too, "I think you need a good long rest." "Look, kid, I'm busy this morning" As well as wanting to be successful, Willy wants to be more successful than the people surrounding him, but not his family. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many critics have shrugged off the notion that Miller was criticising society, however I think that one would be misjudging the play and Miller to overlook the scene to which Miller has set for the Lomans'. Willy excuse for committing suicide was that so his sons can have a better life, they could make a better life for themselves with the money that Willy's death will bring. I also think this is a farce because since Willy committed suicide the insurance money will not be paid to the Loman's, therefore Willy did not commit suicide to save his family, he committed suicide to escape his own guilt, the same guilt that drove him to the insanity in the first place. Along with the guilt it is the mythical American Dream that was the fatal factor for Willy, he did work so hard to try and garner himself some status, but for every day he worked, another person laughed, which I think says a lot about American society. So, yes I do think the social issues were an important part of Willy's demise. Many things caused this fate, and in my opinion it is ironic that the American Dream Willy worked so hard towards was a major cause of his unhappiness and suicide. Craig Southern ...read more.

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