what are the themes used in death of a salesman

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A prominent theme in Death of a Salesman is the myth of the American Dream. Though Willy Loman has worked hard for decades, he is unable to raise his socioeconomic status. As he closes in on the end of his career, he is, in fact, demoted. He goes from earning a salary to being paid on commission. He is robbed of his dignity by having to grovel unsuccessfully toward a younger boss, and he struggles to meet the basic expenses of maintaining his home.

Another theme in the play has to do with aging. Willy is not only past his prime earning years, he is also beginning to become mentally impaired. He is no longer able to drive safely, and he begins to hallucinate (he frequently sees his late brother). He reflects back on his former sexual virility when he had both a wife and a mistress. He is not of much use to his adult sons. Age has taken away many of the ways that Willy Loman defined himself as a man.

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There are a number of themes explored in Death of a Salesman.

The theme of honesty and delusion is thoroughly explored and is central to the play. Willie feels that he needs to be more successful than he has been. He is unwilling to face the truth of his position, of his relationship to Biff, and to accept his declining abilities. Willie's denial is one example of the cross-section of delusion and dishonesty presented in the play.

Resilience and compassion are also themes. Linda and Biff are the characters who most clearly demonstrate ideas of caring and of the difficulty in caring for family in times of strife and psychological difficulty. Both Biff and Linda put themselves aside at times to help Willie and to try to fix things.

You can find more on themes in Death of a Salesman at this eNotes page: http://www.enotes.com/death-of-a-salesman/themes.

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