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how does this poem relate in terms of theme to Death of a Salesman The Average His...

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yahhhh | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 23, 2013 at 4:05 AM via web

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how does this poem relate in terms of theme to Death of a Salesman 

The Average

His peasant parents killed themselves with toil
To let their darling leave a stingy soil
For any of those smart professions which
Encourage shallow breathing, and grow rich.

The pressure of their fond ambition made
Their shy and country-loving child afraid
No sensible career was good enough,
Only a hero could deserve such love.

So here he was without maps or supplies,
A hundred miles from any decent town;
The desert glared into his blood-shot eyes;

The silence roared displeasure: looking down,
He saw the shadow of an Average Man
Attempting the exceptional, and ran.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:06 PM (Answer #1)

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This poem shares the same main theme with the play, that of a very ordinary man who tries in vain to carve out a great career for himself and really leave his mark on the world. The man in this poem, like Willy Loman, has what might be called delusions of grandeur, chasing an elusive dream of wealth and success, only to meet with abject failure. The desert imagery used in this poem also  neatly symbolises Willy's social and emotional isolation at the end of Miller's play. Furthermore, in both play and poem, it seems that this average man has been encouraged by members of his family to dream unrealistic dreams; Willy always strives to emulate the success of his older brother Ben, and his wife Linda never attempts to disillusion him either. The image of flight at the end of the poem might also be compared to the end of the play, when Willy  escapes his intolerable situation, in a manner of speaking, by committing suicide (although he is also shown to be dreaming to the last, thinking that the insurance payment incurred by his death will help Biff).

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