Death of a Salesman Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman book cover
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Can one of the messages of Miller's play, Death of a Salesman be seen as a tragedy of miscommunication?

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Inuk Lee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is an interesting question. I am sure that there would be many opinions, but I would say that Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, can be seen as a tragedy that surrounds the idea of miscommunication.

Let me give you several reasons for this.

First, there is constant miscommunication in Willy's whole family. This is particularly acute with Willy's sons. They perceive him in a certain way and he perceive them in a certain way and it is completely off. One can argue that it is this wrong perception and miscomunication that leads to many family troubles.

On another level and more seriously, Willy miscommunicates with himself. Right from the beginning of the play he is seen mumbling to himself. He is often daydreaming. He lies about this business trip. In short, he is not honest with himself and he is living in two worlds. So, on this level, we can say there is miscommunication. This itself is tragic. When the stark reality of truth hits, it is too late. Willy takes his life.

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mbhasin06 | Student

That's exactly what I was thinking, the biggest miscommunication in the play is that of Willy to himself.  He deludes himself into thinking his position remains unchanged from that of the past and in fact extends this to his children believing they are almost greek gods instead of seeing them for the 'lazy bums' they are. Would you say catastrophe occurs when a character fails to speak?