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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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Why doesn't Willy Loman deserve sympathy and why is this significant?

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Willy Loman is a working class man who makes choices that hurt his family and his self-worth. Although it may be natural for the life of a traveling salesman, when Willy is portrayed as having extramarital affairs it undermines his integrity and leads the audience to view him in a less sympathetic light. His suicide attempts also tend to make him seem like an unsympathetic character, since his suicide would leave his family without a provider. The title of the play suggests Willy Loman is a sort of Everyman character, representative of the working classes of his generation, and also that his life and his choices are universal and recognizable. In this way Miller is commenting on American society and the banality and hopelessness of this way of life.

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