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

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

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What aspects of post-war American society are reflected in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman"? "Death of a Salesman" is a critical view of post-war American society, focussing on the paradoxical enduring influence of "the Dream" and the capitalist boom. This is paradoxical as the dream and capitalism have very different ideals underlying each other, but are grouped as similar - "Death of a Salesman" illustrates this with brutal accuracy, and shows how confusing both ideals can be disastrous. The disparity within the dream, especially in the face of reality, is one which is examined at length in "Death of a Salesman", and which is illustrated chiefly through the play's protagonist, Willy, a man caught up in the dream, who can't cope with reality. Even in the opening stage instructions, which state "an air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality", there is an implication of desperation in the dream ("clings"), and of a conflict with reality. The danger of the dream and it's influence is only too apparent throughout the story, which cruelly shows the flaws in the dream, for example, by contrasting Willy and Charlie's parenting. ...read more.

Middle

This need for victory is another pillar of the dream, and again is damaging to the people who subscribe to it. Using Willy as the example again, he needs victory but despairingly claims that "the competition is maddening" - it is like a desire he can never satiate, as he is unsuccessful. This would be alarming enough, but it is made worse when we realise that the desire would not be satiated even if he was successful, as outlined by Hap when talking of an executive; "...he built a terrific estate on Long Island...lived in it for two months, and sold it, and now he's building another one.". This illustrates the constant need to be better, even when it is not necessary, and why it would not be possible to be satisfied for any successful executive in the way Biff would be happy on a farm. It is this desire for ultimate victory which drives the businesses of the capitalist system - a need to make more and more money, to get ahead of the competition. ...read more.

Conclusion

Certainly, to Linda the money isn't even an issue; but to Willy, the capitalist doctrine states that the sole purpose of life is to accumulate wealth, which he does in the only way he knows how. "Death of a Salesman" is an in-depth criticism of the disparity within the American Dream, and a warning about believing in an ideal so much that you ignore the lessons which life tries to teach you. The play's main objective is to raise awkward questions of the American lifestyle, and thus the context of the cold war, when American patriotism was at a height, is important to consider. The aspects of American society which are reflected are those linked to the capitalist dream which Miller criticises, and then the repercussions which affect human lives. Linda is a victim throughout, and she is an example of this - she asks a key question relating to the lifestyle which Willy chooses, which only her love of him allows her to ignore - "why must everyone conquer the world?". Throughout the play, Miller poses questions of the capitalist doctrine such as this, leaving them unanswered as to dwell in the minds of the audience. ...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 ...

    Happy states that he is generally achieving everything that he wanted, yet they are not important to him; they are empty accomplishments. He even questions the reason why he is working just as Willy questioned the point of the house, because all he is achieving from working is pointless and empty success.

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

    Without having his father as a role-model, Willy has to find another path to success. Willy remembers that Ben offered him a job, which he regrets not having taken. With this job, Willy would have been following the old version of the American Dream.

  1. The American Nightmare: Is Death of a Salesman a stanch critique of the American, ...

    he will impress Letta more by pretending to be a high earning Champagne seller than himself: HAPPY: Why don't you bring her - excuse me, miss, do you mind? I sell champagne, and I'd like you to try my brand.

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

    Crooks begins sewing doubts as to whether or not George will come back to him. Lennie grows scared and confused, then angry, and threatens Crooks, asking who hurt George. Crooks backs down, sensing Lennie's anger, and assures him that George will be back.

  1. Death of a Salesman PC Version.

    and friends, he wants to be admired and remembered, Willy bases all his dreams on the success of a man named Dave Singleman. Willy saw this man as the ultimate in success and dreamed of leading the same life and dying the same death that Singleman did, he dreamed of

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

    Linda is the stereotypical woman of the American dream, she strives to only make her husband happy and values his happiness over her own and that of her children. 'There is more good in him than you know' shows how much she believes in Willy even when he begins to go slightly mad.

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