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Middle School Teacher
I am not sure where this one is supposed to go. However, here goes.
The play "The Death of a Salesman" is the story of Willy Lowman, an aging insurance salesman who has been doing poorly for sometime. He is unable to provide for his family of two grown sons and his wife. He tries to kill himself.
Willy begins to move in and out of delirium as he tries to cope with the loss of the "American Dream." His son Biff returns home and he believes that his fantasy of success will come true through his son.
The whole family has lived their life as an allusion as Willy pushed Biff to be more like him. Willy talks big but nothing ever seems to surface but he can not admit the failure of his life. In the end Willy kills himself so that it looks like an accident. His family gets the insurance money that pays off his mortgage. The American Dream has been achieved in his death. His family now owns the property.
The play demonstrates the irony of Willy's life. He had worked hard all his life to achieve the American Dream and the only way he could actually attain it was through his death.
Posted by mkcapen1 on February 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM (Answer #1)
Miller’s American masterpiece illustrates the evolution of modern tragedy. The play introduces the concept of the common man as tragic hero, and the critique of the American Dream that parallels the fall of Willy Loman. Death of a Salesman, like Oedipus the King and A Dollhouse, embodies the end of a much longer story. Here, however, this longer story is brought into the present through dramatized fragments of memory.
These scenes of past action come out of Willy’s head; they are consequently subjective and distorted visions of the past rather than accurate recreations. Psychologically, they suggest that the past is always a part of the present, shaping our thoughts, actions, fears, and dreams. We are made up from everything we have lived through.
There are two crises in the play. Both occur on stage and within Willy’s mind. The first is the discovery of Willy’s adultery (Act 2). This single incident shapes the future of both Willy and Biff (i.e., the present action of the play). It also accounts for the ongoing alienation between father and son, Biff’s self-destructiveness, and Willy’s guilt. The second crisis is Willy’s decision, while in conversation with Ben, to commit suicide; it shapes the catastrophe, which follows closely when Willy drives off to his death (Act 2), and the resolution of the play (the “Requiem”).
Willy and Biff each experience a partial recognition. Willy realizes that he has run out of lies, dreams, and illusions (Act 2) but that Biff loves him (Act 2). Biff clearly realizes that he does not want Willy’s version of the American Dream (Act 2).
Posted by epollock on February 8, 2010 at 10:49 AM (Answer #2)
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