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The Crime Of Vanity In Arthur Miller´S Death Of A Salesman

1415 words - 6 pages

There has been much discussion of Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman, in subsequent years since its release, arguing different perspectives of many aspects of the play. In B.S. Field Jr.’s article “Hamartia in Death of Salesman”, he puts forth his views detailing why he feels Willy Loman is adequately and justly punished for his many crimes against his family. By highlighting literary evidence, Field is able to detail a strong argument against Willy as an amoral human. Although Willy is justly punished for his crimes, Field fails to go into the depth of Willy’s crimes. The extent of Willy Loman’s corruption makes his crimes far more severe, for he has left his family in shambles and to continue to be his future conduits. Willy Loman’s addiction to his own delusions have made him curse his sons to the same amoral mind frame that he had put on himself, and continues to use against his wife, while still feeling convinced he is a well liked person that deserves to be treated better than he treats others.
Willy Loman receives a deserving punishment for many reasons, but the lesson he leaves behind to his sons is one of the most everlasting to his family. Field in his article claims “what he has taught them does not look to him like what he had wanted them to learn” (21), but Willy’s failure is that Biff and Happy have learned exactly what he has taught them their whole lives. Much of the conflict stems from their similarities rather than their differences. Much of the contradictory nature of Willy’s own thoughts are the same as that of Biff’s. For instance when Biff catches Willy with another woman, he is furious with his father shouting, “You fake! You phony little fake!”(2. 745), but even though Biff is angry with his father he begins to ignore him when the women come back to the restaurant. Here Biff is being just as fake, as he felt his father was being and as fake as his claim that he wouldn’t tell the small white lies to Willy for a just a little moment of joy. Even Biff’s kleptomania could have originated from Willy encouraging him. When Biff tells Willy that he has flunked math, Willy is more concerned “Bernard wouldn’t give [him] the answers” (2.700), teaching Biff that it is okay for him to cheat or steal for his own personal gain. Similarly, Happy and Biff both think higher of their own position or former positions, so to seem more important in their own mind, in much the same way Willy would lie about his earnings. Biff convinced himself he was a salesman for Bill Oliver and Happy rather than being an assistant buyer was actually “one of the two assistants to the assistant” (1.869). In the Requiem scene, Happy’s delusions remain unbroken and he is still convinced he will be successful in the city. Not only have Willy’s actions have been detrimental to himself, but also to both of his children confining them to a shallow life, which is all they could understand past the web of Willy’s delusions. Willy’s death was a just punishment...

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