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Friday, January 4, 2013

Essay on Death of a Salesman

 Essay on Death of a Salesman

INSTRUCTIONS: read “death of a salesman” by Willie Loman.  One side discuss how Willie was a VOLUNTEER – that he brought all his problems on himself. The other side discuss how Willy was a VICTIM – it was not his fault. determine your position - he is victim or volunteer in your opinion, and then use the contrary side of issue to build your argument. Use quotes from the pages that I send to you and I want your thoughts/words only: no outside text! it is an online class, the papers will be scanned.

In the play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller presented the main character named Willy Loman as both a victim of circumstance and as a volunteer of his own fate. His fascinating and contrasting character has interestingly made him into both. In the play, he is seen as a man who is trying his best to hold on to his values and dignity in a fast changing world that has forgotten the values he strongly believes in. And in the play one can see how the society played its role in Willy’s misfortunes, and at the same time, how his own pride has ultimately pushed him to his own tragic end. 

Most people would agree that Willy Lowman is a victim of circumstances. In the play, the author painted an image of a man who is caught up in changing world. In fact, his personality is best represented by his confined home. Presented as a narrow and small place, Willy’s home symbolizes limit, constraint, and restriction. This greatly opposed the vastness of New York as well as his obsessions with distant places such as Alaska and Africa. This shows, how Willy is trapped in an environment where his growth is limited and where freedom is ubiquitous. 

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Furthermore, Willy seemed to a victim of time. Being in his 60s, Willy still has many dreams to fulfill, and yet his age does not allow him to perform all of those things. He grew up believing that charisma is the only way by which a man can be successful. Hence, he has made a living using this belief as a salesman. As time passed however, he discovered that he was beginning to lose the charm he once had and it was becoming more and more difficult to sell as well as to travel. This inescapable reality of time made Willy even more depressed and frustrated. As age ravaged his skills, some would also argue that he has become a victim of the changing society. This is evident when he asked Howard for raise. His boss on the other hand, had the company’s interest in mind and knows that Willy is all worn out. As such, he is fired from his job. In the quote, “Nothing’s planted, I don’t have a thing in the ground” (Miller 23) talks about Willy’s failed career. The seed symbolizes Willy’s intangible image and an evidence of success. 

Although many would understand and sympathized with Willy’s predicament, I believe that Willy is not a victim, but rather a volunteer of his own fate. Throughout the play, it is evident how Willy refuses to give up his stubborn ways such as his firm belief that being popular is the only way by which a man can achieve greatness. This is best explained in the line: “ And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want.  Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?” (Miller 56). 

Although Willy has made a living as a salesman, he was in fact, provided other means to attain success. For instance, one can achieve success through sheer hard work, as represented by Bernard. Similarly greatness can be attained with a combination of luck and good timing as symbolized by Ben. Despite of these examples, Willy refuses to open his mind and accept that there are other avenues apart his own. His stubbornness and refusal to see other options is an indication that he was given other alternatives and yet, he chose to continue holding on to his traditional belief. 

Willy continues to choose this belief even until the end. In the last part of the play, the audience could see Willy has decided to commit suicide. What is even more interesting to point out is the fact, that he freely chose his death and looked at it as the best possible option that could not only help his family financially, but at the same time restore his lost dignity. This choice to end his own life so that his family could receive his insurance was not forced upon him. This only means that he freely chose everything that has happened to him. Thus, he is responsible for his own choices.      

Cited Works

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. London: A & C Publishers, 2010


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1 comment:

  1. I am looking for this essay.I need to practice it for my coming exam.Thanks for share it in your blog.