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Arthur Miller is a well renowned playwright who can control the emotions of the readers in the way they want to feel. His play the Death Of a Salesman, he begins with symbols and ends with symbols, where the primarily focuses on Willy Loman, who desperately tries hard to become successful in his imminent failure. Using symbols, Miller portrays a tragic but realistic view of Fifties.
Arthur Miller is an interesting writer who reflects his life in his plays. He was born in1915 in New York City. His father was a successful businessman who later lost his wealth. His marriage also affected his life as well as his writing. He then started to focus more on female characters in his writings. He also had worked with many types of working class people who bring him close to his characters in his plays. So, many of his works are from past experiences. (“Arthur Miller.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 10 Aug. 2004. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Miller>.)
Death of A Salesman is a play which reflects Willy Loman, an aging salesman who was pretty much happy and used to get satisfaction from his two sons at one time. Miller uses symbolism, which reflects his conflicting personality. Biff Loman and Happy Loman, his two sons represent the two sides of his personality. Biff which is capable of sincere compassion and Happy who receives consolation through women represents two sides of Willy Loman, but Willy favors Biff more than Happy. That sounds good but that’s the main reason for conflicting between Biff and Willy. He wants to do anything for Biff to be successful. Biffs’ high ambitions are clearly represented by The University of Virginia’s emblem in his shoes. Those ambitions he had before Biff and Willy drifted apart. The reason for confliction between the father-son relationships is that part of the play when Willy has the flashback of the hotel when Biff finds his dad with other woman. For this reason Biff no longer hopes to be successful like his father. Moreover, another symbol that represents Willy’s betrayal and disloyalty towards his wife was the stockings which were actually meant for his wife Linda which he gives to his mistress. As a result whenever he sees his wife mending her old stockings, he feels guilty of what he has done. These stockings also represent Linda’s humbleness towards Willy for which she trusted more than anyone in her life. In fact, to understand the conflict between the family, Miller skillfully uses these symbols in his play Death of a Salesman.
The next symbol in Miller’s play Death of a Salesman is money. Money is important to everyone since it is the foundation that supports people. It brings happiness as well as adverse unhappiness and stress. Similarly, in the play, money is the main theme that causes many conflicts between the characters. If Willy had money than it would have been easier for him to fulfill such basic necessities in his family. He could have brought a new car, moved to another place to live or buy a new house, pay for the refrigerator and other household things. Biff could have gone to University if Willy had enough money. Nevertheless, he has to borrow $50 each week from Charlie, hoping to keep it secret from his wife, Linda. For this reason, Willy eventually had to suicide hoping his insurance will give his family $20000. Money brings big arguments in the family as well as in the business. Willy and Linda kept on arguing about the broken refrigerator, a commission of two hundred and twelve dollars, payments for the refrigerator, remaining twenty one dollars for the roof, and carburetor for the Chevrolet. Naturally, if one cannot find anyone to shout upon, then they go for their children. Whatever Biff was doing in his life, Willy was not happy with him. Biff just earned couple of dollars an hour, not realizing that he is borrowing money from Charley. In addition to that, Biff also enjoyed his job, but Willy tried to force him to live the life of a Salesman. Willy even asks Biff to borrow fifteen thousand dollars with Oliver but Biff fails to do that. Still, Loman’s don’t have any money. Nonetheless, if money was a minor thing in life, everyone could live a descent life and enjoy life at fullest. It could also have saved the life of a Salesman, who was trying to help his family.
Death of a Salesman is a play full of symbolism and themes that are intertwined with one another throughout the entire play. In addition to symbolism, Miller contrasted Willy as being influenced by the ‘American Dream’. Everyone becomes jealous of other’s success. One wants more than other has and that’s the same that has happened to Willy Loman. A false sense of illusion is created, which leads to disillusionment and volatility. (http://www.writework.com/essay2/arthur-miller-s-definition-tragic-hero-death-salesman) Due to society’s ambitions and pressure people get dissatisfied and begin to want more to fulfill their thirst. Due to this, people feel one must provide more to their family and improve the lifestyle and performance of the family. In that process one feels pressured and burdened to outperform others. Willy’s dream was to have a happy family and make his two talented sons follow the path of a salesman. However, from the play, Willy got absorbed by wiliness, by his dreams, and through the society’s pressure. He becomes a man without an ambition, like a snake any poison. Willy still remembers Ben’s mantra “The jungle is full of diamonds” (Miller), where jungle represents life and diamonds represents wealth. Willy regrets of not going with Ben to Africa. He realizes that if he doesn’t earn something quick then he will be a failure in his life. He still has faith in his American Dream, which has influenced his life badly. Willy’s name Loman (Low- man) it itself signifies that he is not destined to become successful in his life and his traits are inherited by his two sons too.
In conclusion, Arthur Miller skillfully uses symbols in Death of a Salesman to contrast between the characters themselves, the society and the Loman’s family relationship. Willy Loman stands as an important character in the play by being a common man with a tragic story in fifties.
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