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Death Of A Salesman: Willy The Everyman

2496 words - 10 pages

Death of a Salesman: Willy the EverymanThrough the characters of Willy Loman and his sons, Miller is able to criticize American society and its false values of consumerism. Arthur Miller penned a direct attack on the rampant philosophy of prioritizing wealth, beauty, charisma and success over principles. The play also stresses that not all Americans were able to conform to the comfortable middle-class lifestyle that the American Dream promised. To better understand how the American Dream concept has faulted Willy Loman and lead him to his demise; a closer look at the post-war American culture and an analysis of its values is de rigueur. This new era of deceit, lies, and material gain at all cost is the realm of the Businessman. A persona that came to be a key component of the American Dream, businessmen represent achievement and success. As Harold Bloom, the literary critic, pointed out, an average American rarely believes it's possible to become successful and valued being a carpenter, gardener or a nurse; it is selling that is seen as the easiest way to becoming rich and respected. Willy Loman and, by extension, his family are victims of this stereotype. The idolized persona of the successful businessman leads Willy to develop false ideas and philosophies. These concepts, in turn, were passed on to Biff and Happy who end up hurt by them as well. Consequently, Willy Loman is a victim of society and the American Dream.There was a time when enterprise, courage and hard work were the keys to success. In the era of Willy Loman, however, it is the salesmanship that is much more important. This salesmanship implies a certain element of fraud, ability to sell a commodity regardless of its intrinsic usefulness. This created a new psychology, a new American Dream. In an era of economic prosperity and material abundance, society placed all values in the mechanical act of selling and in the self-enrichment at the cost of other better human values. The impact of this society is evident on the Lomans, because consumer culture and high social position replaced social and familial values. Effectively blinding Willy, not allowing him to distinguish between what is good and what is bad, what is moral or immoral. When Biff stole a football from the locker room (1245), instead of reprimanding him for it, Willy encouraged him and made up excuses for him; just as he did the second time around when he learned about Bill Oliver's fountain pen (1290). Willy's failures and disillusioned reveries parallel those of any twenty first century American national who was seduced by the American Dream. Irving Jacobson, a researcher and literary critic asserts that the only reality which exists before Willy's eyes is that of material success. Thus a man who's capable of creating beautiful things with his hands, spent thirty four years of his life employed as a salesman.Willy wanted to give his family the best in life. He wanted them to live in the big suburban house with a garage...

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