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

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 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 University Degree Arthur Miller essays

  1. Discuss Miller's Presentation of Self-Deception in Death of a Salesman.

    However Willy 'can't raise a carrot in (his) own backyard' because of local urbanisation. In Act I Willy insinuates that skilled manual labour is lowly by saying to Biff, 'Even your grandfather was better than a carpenter' However by Act II his ambition has become to build a house in the country with a guesthouse for each of his sons.

  2. Critically discuss Michel Foucault's concept of knowledge/power with reference to Arthur Miller's film "The ...

    However, his knowledge of what the real truth was allowed him to be free in his own sense of the word. This relates to Foucault's idea of power that he describes as "a way in which certain actions modify others" (O'Farrell: 1989, p.119).

  1. Do we have the ability to control our destiny - Death of Salesman.

    This little scene exemplifies this point by showing a focus in their lives, being the mortgage on the house. For twenty-five years Willy and Linda have been working to pay off their mortgage, and once they do that, they will attain a sense of freedom, or the "American Dream".


    narrates the story in flashback, focussing on key scenes, and finally he closes the play. Besides he morally comments on the action in a previous scene as well as giving hints on the actions occurring in the next, "He worked on the piers when there was work", "After they had eaten, the cousins came."

  1. The Significance of a Line From Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

    He tells his wife Linda that he can no longer go on the road because he cannot keep his mind on driving. At the same time, his elder son Biff is visiting the Brooklyn home after being away for many years.

  2. Eddie brings about his own downfall. Discuss this statement with close reference to the ...

    He succeeded in creating a scene of violent outburst and dramatic impact when Eddie kisses Catherine and then Rodolfo. This causes a fight between Rodolfo and Eddie but he overpowers him by pinning him down and then kissing him. Rodolfo doesn't show any way of trying to free himself whereas when Eddie kisses Catherine she struggles.

  1. 'Death of a Salesman' is about characters that lie to themselves as well as ...

    This lie stays through out the play and therefore Happy is unhappy in the whole play. He tries everything to become content with himself but it doesn't work. Language is also used to portray the dishonesty in the play. There are many scenes that show and demonstrate this.

  2. Analyse how character, language, setting and structure contribute to the dramatic effect of Death ...

    This shows that it is troubling him and he's feeling guilty. By asking Bernard, he hopes he will tell him it is not his fault and put his mind at ease. Throughout the play Willy makes statements and theories which are often proved to be wrong later in the play.

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