Criticism of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
I found Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, while a definite classic, not as interesting as other Miller plays. For example, ‘All my Sons' is a story about an unscrupulous businessman who lies in court to save himself from certain imprisonment, sends his business partner to prison, and eventually commits suicide once one of his sons uncovers his devious plot. The intrigue, excitement, and setting were easy to follow, enjoyable and riveting. Conversely, I found Death of a Salesman to be slow at times (particularly the first act), difficult to follow (i.e., when Willy Loman was thinking to himself or reminiscing from memory), and overall less enjoyable. This analysis will cover the six points of theater as evinced by Aristotle, and will center around a character analysis of Willy Loman.
Death of a Salesman is set in the 1940's in New York City. Willy Loman has been a traveling salesman for thirty-four years with the Wagner company and considers himself vital to the New England area. This is the first lie the audience sees that Willy Loman is living. Shortly after this we realize that Willy is not essential, or "vital" as he calls it, to the New England territory. In fact, later in the play we discover that Willy is actually a hindrance to the company. Still, Willy's self-respect stands in the way of common sense and good judgement. This is evident when Willy's wife Linda asks Willy to ask his company for a transfer to New York. Willy declines and continues living his charade believing he is too important to the company's success in the New England area.
My reaction to this event is that Willy knows he is truly unsuccessful. But with little self confidence and low self esteem he develops a microcosm of success, wealth, pride and importance. He cannot operate (or function) outside this world he has developed for fear of being caught and subsequently revealed; his family members would most likely catch Willy, and that would be overwhelmingly difficult for this man who has such hopes and dreams for all of them. You see, making people believe you are something you are not when you operate from a distance is very easy; the closer to home your actions are, the easier it is to discover your weaknesses. And this becomes quite evident when Willy says to his sons that someday he will take them to New England and show them how important he really is. Willy never does take them because he knows his children are too close to him and they would surely reveal him for the fake that he is.
As the play begins, Willy has just come home from New England. The audience believes Willy must have had a tiring day, presumably from the long drive, since he is physically exhausted (carrying those two heavy suitcases I felt as though Willy's life was in each of them, a very heavy and burdensome life). Soon we discover that Willy is physically drained because he was driving aimlessly with no sense of direction; this is...