Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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Irony In Death Of A Salesman

What are some examples of the use of irony in "Death of a Salesman"?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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What seems especially ironic in Death of a Salesman is that Willy Loman is a failure but he keeps advising his sons about how to be a success. He was advising them how to be a success when they were kids in school, and he is still advising them how to be a success when they are in their thirties. In the meantime, Willy has becoming less and less successful because he is getting old and worn out. Willy doesn't know how to succeed. In his imagination he keeps asking his brother Ben the secret of success, which shows that Willy doesn't know the secret, if there really is a secret. Willy cannot tell his sons how to succeed and he cannot serve as a role model of success because he is far from being a success himself and doesn't even know how he could have succeeded. It is also ironic that Ben can't tell help him with advice. Ben keeps saying that he walked into the jungle and when he came out, by God, he was rich. 

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kiwi eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is also irony in how the Lomans regard Bernard as a young man. He is mocked for trying to get Biff to study so he will graduate-

WILLY: Don't be a pest, Bernard! [To his boys] What an anaemic!

Willy goes on to qualify his criticism of Bernard by explaining that his lack of personal charisma will hold him back -

WILLY:...Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in to the real world, y'understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him...Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead.

In Act 2 we see the grown up and successful Bernard visiting his father before he returns to his work. It is Charley's turn to boast, and yet he...

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Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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zumba96 | Student

When they say "we're free" it is a very important part of irony because they are finally financially free, however, Linda is also free from being dominated by Willy. Another one is when Biff goes to see Charley and sees his son Bernard. Even though Willy thought Bernard was going to be a nerd, Bernard is happy and financially secure with kids, while his owns son do not have it together. This showcases how things will turn always turn out as you expect since Willy believed Bernard would always be a nerd, but in fact Bernard has his life set more than his own sons. On top of that, Charley knows what his son is doing and how he is doing it while Willy is unaware of his sons plans. This shows irony at Willy's thoughts versus the reality. 

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user6100844 | Student

The irony is that he committed suicide on the day their home which he spent a lifetime paying for at long last become their home. 

keltong | Student

"We're free." is ironic because apart from being financially free, Linda is free from being dominated by Willy, too.

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amandapisarski | Student

Just some pretty basic ones-

Willy's last name "Loman" pronounced Low-Man suggest his low place in society though he insists otherwise.

Linda's last line "we're free"- ironic because they are finally able to pay off all debt and be free of any burden only due to Willy's killing himself for the insurance money.

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