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Discuss the themes of success and failure in Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'

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Introduction

Discuss the themes of success and failure in Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' is a tragedy, which is based on the American Dream. Most people go through their lives as 'ordinary' and that's perfectly okay according to most views. It is not okay, however, for Willy Loman, the aging salesman who is the protagonist of Miller's play. Death of a Salesman is centred around one man trying to reach the American dream and taking his family along for the ride. The Loman's lives from beginning to end is a troubling story based on trying to become successful, or at least happy. The 'American Dream' was to be successful at work and bring up a perfect family. Willy sets himself goals to a standard, which are too high for a salesman like himself. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the novel the audience can sense the confusion in Biff as his dad both praises and mocks him. Willy wants Biff to be the perfect son, but at the age of 30 and still unsettled in a good paying job, Willy thinks badly of Biff. This is selfish of Willy to do this as it shows that he wants his 'American Dream' to come true and isn't so bothered about how Biff feels. Biff shows content about not earning a lot of money but just being happy and living an 'ordinary' life like most people. "Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such - personal attractiveness gets lost." The theme of failure is shown throughout this novel by the way in which Willy treats other people, and the way he thinks and does things. ...read more.

Conclusion

She tries to put the message across that his goals are unreachable, but she is aware that if she tells him straight up, she will lose the full respect for her husband whom she loves. Miller uses this situation to put across the point that Willy is very insecure , and causes the lead to his own downfall and failure. "They laugh at me, heh? Go to Filenes, go to the Hub, go to Slattery's, Boston. Call out the name Willy Loman and see what happens!" This quote is another sign of Willy being insecure as he exaggerates his 'success' to his sons, Biff and Happy. Arthur Miller cleverly uses the name Willy Loman to suggest that his life is one great big disaster and failure. Lo- man suggests that he lives a low life and doesn't succeed in one aspect of life. The theme of success is brought about in this play by Arthur Millers use of other characters that are successful. ...read more.

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