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

How does Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman reflect society at the time?

Extracts from this document...


How does Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman reflect society at the time? Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller deals with one mans struggle in achieving success and how outside influences such as money, family and even society influence an individual. Willy Loman's tragic character has a lot of depth to it, and to therefore understand such depth we must look in to the society that is around him and indeed the playwright Arthur Miller. Willy Loman is set apart from the rest of society as he relies upon a different set of values and motivations everyone else rests on. From the time, that Death of a Salesman was written there were many accounts on how America was going through a post war social and economic upheaval. It was not only Arthur Miller but also Tennessee Williams who began creating a series of protest plays whilst working with radical theatre companies. The history that had gone before them formed many of the major themes that defined their characters along with the explanation of the social pressure that is exerted on them. ...read more.


The play of Death of a Salesman on the surface appears to be about one man's quest in becoming a well-liked salesman. On some levels, Willy feels as if he is obligated to fulfil this dream that society has inflicted, however looking at his character in depth it is Willy who feels trapped by this dream. The American dream is presented as "the" dream to have with no other been being acceptable. Willy's true dream resurfaces at certain points within the play, the dream that has been forced in to his almost subconscious mind; living on his own in the country were he can raise his family and live off the land. This dream only resurfaces when the dream he is trying to achieve (The American Dream) does not go according to plan, for instance when Willy plants seeds in his garden. Willy's true dream is the same dream that his son Biff wishes to achieve in the climax of the play. It is Willy that makes this dream seem impossible for Biff to achieve as he is forcing him in to the false dream of the well liked salesman. ...read more.


At this point, they were given the simple pleasure of a credit card however; they had to possess their husband's name on it. However, during the time Death of a Salesman was written women were still in the battle for fair treatment and equal rights. The way in which Miller displays this is by not including any strong female figures in the play. The repression of women in society at the time just caused them to be held back, something that a fast developing country such as America could not afford to do. Eliza Kazan once said, "Willy is one vast contradiction, and this contradiction is his downfall" This reflects Willy's undecided attitudes on pride, success and his affair, which therefore portrays Willy Loman as a casualty of the capitalistic concept. It becomes evident from this play how society can be very judgemental on the people within it. The protagonist, Willy Loman is used by Miller to portray the prejudice a society has on a person. Willy Loman becomes alienated in many different ways, for instance being fired from his job and the feeling that he has been segregated from his own family. All of the actions that alienate him validate the discrimination of a biased world. ...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 John Steinbeck 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 John Steinbeck essays

  1. A play that demonstrates the emptiness of the American dream". How far do you ...

    On the other hand, in contrast to Willy, Charley is successful and has a fulfilling career and achieved the American dream. Willy is very envious of Charley, so much so that his pride, jealousy and stubbornness prevents him from accepting a job off Charley, even when he is unemployed: 'I just can't work for you, Charley'.

  2. In this assignment I will explain why the main characters in Willy Russell's "Blood ...

    First comes Slim, the wise leader of the workers, whose "authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love" (37). Slim welcomes George and Lennie and doesn't question their traveling together. The next worker to enter is a powerful but amiable man

  1. What aspects of post-war American society are reflected in Arthur Miller's "Death of a ...

    trying to build his own little empire, he is sacked with nothing to keep him going. He is surplus to requirements, and as his boss Howard says, "business is business". It is unthinkable for him to give money to someone when they are not earning for him, making him succeed.

  2. What do you think Arthur Miller is trying to say about 'success' and the ...

    He would have been following Ben, the symbol of this dream who goes to exotic, far away places and returns rich. Linda reminds Willy of Dave Singleman, a successful salesman who Willy follows. Willy praises Dave Singleman highly and looks up to him, as that is who he wishes to be.

  1. Through his portrayal of Willy Loman what comment is Arthur Miller making about the ...

    Willy Loman tries for all of his life to succeed in the American dream and its ideals, purchasing all of the goods and going along with the lifestyle perfectly, bringing his children up to try and benefit from the dream as well, he is over confident in his own abilities

  2. Death of a Salesman PC Version.

    pressure to succeed is placed upon them and if they fail society looks down on them and deems them useful simply because they are not earning enough money to be able to buy the best of everything. The play focuses on Willy Loman and the dreams he dreamed.

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