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

How Far Do You View The Play "Death Of a Salesman" as Merely a Touching Portrayal of One Inadequate Human's Failure?

Extracts from this document...


How Far Do You View The Play "Death Of a Salesman" as Merely a Touching Portrayal of One Inadequate Human's Failure? One must certainly regard "Death of a Salesman" as a tragedy, yet it is a play somewhat removed from the genre's traditional elements. The playwright Arthur Miller has succeeded in combining the usually great, king-like tragic hero with an ordinary person. The play is not limited to discussing the failings of one human being however, there are many other issues that are raised in this play and I will discuss them here in this essay. The first thing that must be addressed in this assessment is whether Willy is the only human failure in the play. Willy's sons must also be considered. Biff, for example, is said to be a "man who has not yet found himself" by his mother Linda, using this saying to describe his vast string of failures. At thirty-four years old, Biff remains rather immature, as demonstrated by his inability to hold down a job. When Biff stays at the family house, he and Happy stay in their old bunk beds suggesting a high level of immaturity in both of them. ...read more.


One could argue that Willy's inability to accept a job from Charley is merely an example of his stubbornness and pride; these can be regarded as character traits, not inadequacies. In fact, in another situation, these personality traits might serve Willy well. Arguably, however, Willy does seem to be quite mad and deluded, with his head firmly in the good times of the past. This arguably loses sympathy for Willy but then again the audience regains their sympathy for him when they learn of the hardship he is put under and of the good times in the past; they feel he is acting rather like a normal person in the same situation. The play is certainly not just about the failure of an inadequate human being(s) there is far greater depth to the story. One could argue that the play is also a critique of the "American dream", the idea that an ordinary person can just achieve success without too much effort; you just have to be "well-liked" as Willy puts it. It is Willy's obsession with achieving this dream that leads to his madness and his downfall. ...read more.


Despite this, Willy does fail in several areas. He fails to generate a good enough income to support a family and the situation becomes dire when he loses his job. He arguably fails as a father in that his sons are unsuccessful and when they were young he almost encourages them to steal for example. He also seems to fail as a husband in that he has an affair and he generally badly treats his wife. Willy's delusion suggests a failure to hold onto his sanity and an inability to adjust with the times. I can conclude therefore that "Death of A Salesman" is certainly a touching portrayal of Willy's failures. I disagree with the idea of the play being "merely" a touching portrayal however; it is far more than that. We certainly feel sympathetic towards Willy's downfall yet we also feel angry at his situation. Miller challenges the ideals of Capitalism and the American dream and this creates almost anger amongst the audience, who feel the rich and "great" have cheated them. Miller's use of a working class "low man" conveys the idea that every human being has dreams and ambitions not just the powerful man. His is a challenge to the Aristotelian tragedies of old in which it seemed to suggest that only the great kings could ever suffer. His challenge certainly succeeds. ...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 Arthur Miller 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 Arthur Miller essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Can 'Death of a Salesman' be Described as a Tragedy?

    4 star(s)

    Sixty years on, more modern audiences will react differently as times have changed and the idea of the American Dream isn't as dominant anymore. Besides the American Dream, other common themes can be found in the play. Betrayal is quite clear as Willy betrays Linda by cheating on her with

  2. Peer reviewed

    Not only does 'Death of a Salesman' inform the audience about Arthur Miller's opinions ...

    4 star(s)

    However, when Biff finds out about his father's affair with 'The Woman' it tarnishes his opinion of his father and destroys his ambition. Willy notices this and starts to harbour a grudge against Biff because he feels that Biff has not lived up to his expectations.

  1. Discuss the Importance of Dreams in "Death of a Salesman"

    "Well, I - I did - about a hundred and eighty gross in Providence. Well, no - it came to - roughly two hundred gross on the whole trip" Linda knows he exaggerates, and later on she even reveals she knows that he borrows money from Charley so it looks


    - Not a good salesman. - Much of what the family have is paid for on instalments. - Willy always owing and paying things off. - Flashback scene- "what do we owe?" - LIVES IN A MATERLISTIC SOCIETY. - Success- having more money.

  1. Death of a Salesman Essay

    In Christianity it is a sin to commit suicide. Therefore, Miller may be showing that Willy will be going to hell in his afterlife. Conversely, Miller may have been showing that Willy is incredibly small and insignificant in the scheme of things. The tall buildings could show the Lomans are unimportant because there are so many others, struggling to live the high-life.

  2. Death of a Salesman

    'Come on inside, drummer boy. It's silly to be dressing in the middle of the night.' (Act Two. Page 88. The Woman) Then once knocking is heard, Willy orders The Woman to 'stay in the bathroom' as he 'thinks there's a law in Massachusetts about it' ('it' being adultery)

  1. To what extent do you consider Willy Loman a tragic hero?

    sixty plus years of age, he even still shows characteristics for success within the American dream; masculinity, competitiveness and most importantly popularity. It seems Miller is trying to poke fun at the system through Loman. With this evidence Loman looks rather like a victim to the American dream, best said

  2. Death Of A Salesman

    The family's relationships between each other are fractured due to the pressure to do well and to live up to the 'American Dream' which makes the ending effective because this means they have to live a lie and hide from the truth.

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