Why was Death of a Salesman set in New York?I'm doing a diary entry on Biff Loman. I'm describing New York which is his city, but I need a better understanding of why the play was set in New...

Why was Death of a Salesman set in New York?

I'm doing a diary entry on Biff Loman. I'm describing New York which is his city, but I need a better understanding of why the play was set in New York. It's relevance to the text or possible meaning?

Asked on by alexb0274

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are two reasons that I can think of. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, New York is of course the financial capital of the United States, and therefore a very appropriate place for Miller to set his play which is all about capitalism, the rat race and trying to achieve the nebulous American Dream. By setting his play in New York, Miller makes Willy's misery that more acute because he is constantly surrounded by the mantras of capitalism and continually seduced by the phantoms of success. Biff, too, is seduced by those same voices for part of the play, until he has his epiphany and realises that he was never meant for a job in the city.

The second reason is the way that the encroaching city is shown to symbolise Willy's true desire or calling to live away from the city and in the countryside. Remember when they first bought their house it was in the countryside, but steadily and surely, as the city developed, their house was overtaken and now they are unable even to grow anything in the back yard because of the buildings surrounding them blocking out the sunlight. Willy says to Linda at the beginning of Act II:

You wait, kid, before it's all over we're gonna get a place out in the country, and I'll raise some vegetables, a couple of chickens...

We realise more and more as we watch this play that Willy's life has been futile, and he and his whole family would have been much happier had they lived in the countryside and Willy had got a job as a handyman or a carpenter. As Biff says in the Requiem, there was more of his father in the front stoop of the house than there ever was in the sales he made.

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uttamkumari's profile pic

uttamkumari | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

It is  set in  New  York  because  it is  one  of  the  largest  American  city and  also the  play  deals  with 'American  Dream ' - literary phrase  that  mean  to  say   that  American  always dream  of  becoming  richer , successful  etc.  and  this  is  often reflected in novels , plays etc. The  drama 'Death  of  a  salesman' is an  American  play  that captures the  life  of WILLY  Loman  a  salesman  who  dreams  of  achieving success  like  others but  is  disillusioned by  failure and  at  last  commits  suicide . New york  is  a  perfect  setting for  such  themes . New  york  is  a  bustling  city  with  millions  of  people  everyday  targetting  for  earning  more  and  more .

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