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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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