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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller
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How could I develop a strong thesis with three supporting arguments regarding the theme of fear of abandonment in Death of a Salesman?

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Issues of abandonment arise frequently in Arthur Miller’s play. Miller mentions in his published Introduction that one of the key images that presented itself to him as he was putting the play together was that of someone who has been left behind: “The image of aging and so many of your friends already gone and strangers in the seats of the mighty who do not know you or your triumphs or your incredible value.” Willy knows full well that he is being abandoned every day, and the fear looms ever larger as he feels his mental powers slipping.

As the play opens, the audience sees Willy’s conflicted relationship with past and present. He imagines that his brother, Ben, is with him, and then retreats to a similar scene years earlier when his sons were young. Willy entreats Ben to stay with him. Ben, who is much older, left when Willy was a young child, as their father had already done.

WILLY (longingly). Can’t you stay a few days? You’re just what I need, Ben, because I—I have a fine position here, but I —well, Dad left when I was such a baby and I never had a chance to talk to him and I still feel—kind of temporary about myself.

This idea of “feeling temporary about himself” neatly encapsulates Willy’s deep inner self-doubts, and the sense that he will never accomplish what he longs for the most: the security of being loved. His plaintive cry, “I was lonely,” which he repeatedly speaks of in the scene with the Woman, also stems from abandonment.

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