Death of a Salesman. In this essay I will analyse the way in which Miller attacks this pursuit of the American Dream. In the first part, I will focus on the use of Symbolisms; in the second part I will examine the use of motifs.
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The pursuit of the American dream can inspire ambition; it can transform a person and cause him to become motivated and hard-working, with high standards and morals; or, it can tear a person down, to the point of near insanity that results from the wild, hopeless chase after the dream. In this essay I will analyse the way in which Miller attacks this pursuit of the American Dream. In the first part, I will focus on the use of Symbolisms; in the second part I will examine the use of motifs. Many symbols are incorporated in the play. The hose, tape recorder and the seeds are some of these symbols. The hose in Miller's drama directly relates to the theme of death. The hose is a line attached to the gas main in Willy's house which allows him to sniff the gas.
At the end of his life, it is too late for Willy to leave anything substantial behind, whether it be financial or emotional. But, as Willy's life becomes more hectic and burdened he desperately tries to grow plants. These seeds are in fact symbolic of what he has been unable to do, the roots he has been unable to grow in his career and in his family. Death of a Salesman exhibits many motifs in its context. An example of one motif is Biffs recurrent theft that takes place throughout the play. Biff wasn't raised to tell the difference between right and wrong. As a result, each time Biff decides to steal something, the consequences of his actions become apparent later on in the play. An early presentation of this motif can be seen during Biff's teenage life, after he steals a football from school.
Willy: You'll give him the answers!" (page 27). Another motif is Happy's recurrent attempts to draw his father's attention to his weight loss. "I'm losing weight, you notice, pop?" Willy consistently ignores those attempts. This is an important motif because it shows that Willy is more interested about blowing Biff "so full of hot air" rather than acknowledge the potential of his other son. This results in catastrophe because Biff never reachs his potential and Happy, who could have made a successful business man, was never acknowledged in the same way Biff was. This represents Willy's failure at cherishing his family life; he should have put the life and happiness of his family before his career. In conclusion, Miller's criticism is successfully achieved in his use of symbolism and motifs; the tape recorder and the seeds symbolise Willy's inability to move forward in his life; in turn, this blinds him to the dangers of Biff's stealing habits, a motif in the play, mistaking it for potential to achieve great things instead of recognising the habit as dangerous and wrong.
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