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Comment Paper on Death of a Salesman - Essay Example

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Name Date Course Section/# Arthur Miller’s Play “Death of a Salesman” as an Autobiographical Analysis Although there exists an unbelievably high number of individual themes with which to examine in Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman”, one would be remiss if they did not consider the strong autobiographical overtones that pervade the work…
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Comment Paper on Death of a Salesman

Miller’s own early life was eerily similar to that of what the reader is made aware of Willy Loman’s life. For instance, Miller grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood in New York City; the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. Miller’s own father was a successful businessman in a textile mill; which eventually employed 400 individuals. This successful lifestyle enabled the family to enjoy the luxuries of having a new car at a time when cars were still a novelty, attending private schools, and enjoying the occasional vacation. However, the good times would not last as the crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression shattered the family’s bliss. Miller’s father, out of work and out of options sold their home and moved to Gravesend, New York. It was during this time that young Arthur Miller was forced to take a bread route ever morning before school; delivering bread via his bicycle as a means to keep the family afloat. Although it is easy to say that such an experience doubtless had an effect on how Arthur Miller viewed the plight of the average man, this author would go a step further and claim that the hard times and difficult experiences that young Arthur Miller endured during the great depression and his family’s subsequent fall from wealth are autobiographically sketched in his play “Death of a Salesman”. If one adopts this autobiographical approach to “Death of a Salesman”, many of the intrinsic lessons and interplay that exists between the family members and Willy Loman help to show the fleeting nature of success and the cold, cruel reality of pervasive failure that crushes the spirit of the entire family. As a means of showing this dichotomy, Willy Loman states, “Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it” (Miller 15). Rather than simply relating to the reader how difficult success is to achieve, Miller works to add a nuanced level of understanding which shows that even if success is achieved – what merit does it have in and of itself? The fleeting nature of success as defined by Loman in the above passage profoundly reflects the eventualities that effected Arthur Miller’s own young life with respect to the brief success enjoyed and then snatched away by the Great Depression. Further, strong elements of the Depression Era mentality peak through at various points of Arthur Miller’s play. When speaking with his wife Linda, Willy blurts out, “Once in my life I’d like to own something that isn’t broken already” (Miller 73). The rage and frustration at being perennially stuck with second best, having to live on the fringes of society, living with inferior products as a result of being poor is seen as a central theme throughout the play. More than merely representing poverty and hardship as the life of a salesman, this form of life alteration to deal with the gnawing pangs of poverty shows an author who is all too familiar with such an eventuality. Further, due to the aforementioned fact that Miller himself had to take a bread right prior to school every morning shows the extent to which the author had to sacrifice of himself as a means of helping to keep his own family sheltered, clothed, fed, and warm during a similarly trying time. However, more than being allegorical of the plight of the poor, the author ... Read More
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