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How Willy Loman (and Biff) Challenge Traditional Notions of Tragedy in Miller's 'Death of a Salesman' - Essay Example

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Name 10 May 2012 Assignment Death of a salesman, a play written by Arthur Miller is a story about the waning days of a failing salesman whose ambition in life is to achieve the American dream; the dream being the attainment of prosperity by the element of charisma in one’s life…
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How Willy Loman (and Biff) Challenge Traditional Notions of Tragedy in Millers Death of a Salesman
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How Willy Loman (and Biff) Challenge Traditional Notions of Tragedy in Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'

All these aspects turn his life upside down, making the play a tragedy – a conflict not only in the mind of Willy Loman, but also his son Biff, who seeks to find a solution for the turmoil of thoughts that waft past his mind like a raging sea. The play seeks to portray two different American dreams – one where wealth and success are the answer to a happy life, and the other where happiness is the answer to a successful and wealthy lifestyle; both taking place within the same household. However, the play is different from the traditional notions of tragedy; instead of simply being a story where the protagonist fails in life, suffers extreme sorrow because of the inability to cope with a stressful situation, it is a painful story about the relationship between a father and a son and how one’s tragedy becomes the other’s awakening to a better life. Willy Loman is an old man and over the course of time, he faces the delusion of being able to achieve the American dream of simple success by his sales business. He is desperate for his sons to triumph in what he always wanted to and could not and that can also be witnessed in the manner in which he killed himself, leaving behind a handsome inheritance with which Biff could follow in his father’s wake. ...
Willy, on the other hand, was stuck in the labyrinth of life with no desire within himself to find a way out. Many critics write that his surname Loman is actually a pun on the word ‘low-man’ or the low self-esteem that he had for himself considering that he never felt happy about himself or his life. It is pertinent to note that no tragic hero puts himself in the situation knowingly; even if he does so, he always tries to find a way out of the mess that he has created for himself. Willy on the other hand, had no will within him to get out of what he had fallen into. He was lying entrapped within a web of his own lies and delusions that he was not willing to give up on; perhaps life to him was a mere step away from achieving the American dream and he blamed the same on the time and place that he was in life at the time, and thus wanted his sons to carry his name forward by finishing what he had started. However, by thinking about such propaganda all day, he often forgot to understand the turmoil of emotion that his family was undergoing; the love and affection that they had for him and the mental support that they provided him with. When his son Ben states “The jungle is dark, but full of diamonds,” (Miller, Arthur) a metaphor is presented on the death that the salesman took upon himself. Willy’s act of committing suicide was rough like a diamond and he means to say that Willy represents every other salesman in the country trying to realize his dream without understanding the dangers that were obstructing him from doing so, and all of them together make up the entire concrete and commercial jungle where they are trying their best to understand their material capacities. The only place where ... Read More
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