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"The Jagged Edges Of A Shattered Dream" Going Into Detail About Arthur Millers Characters And Text In Death Of The Salesman.

1732 words - 7 pages

Death of a Salesman tells the story of a man confronting failure in the success-driven society of America and shows the tragic trajectory, which eventually leads to his suicide. Willy Loman is a symbolic icon of the failing America; he represents those that have striven for the success but, in struggling to do so, have instead achieved failure in its most bitter form. Arthur Miller's tragic drama is a probing portrait of the typical American psyche portraying an extreme craving for success and superior status in a world otherwise fruitless. To some extent, therefore, Death of Salesman is concerned with the 'jagged edges of a shattered dream' but on another more tragic and bitter level, it also evokes the decline of a man into lunacy and the subsequent effect this has on those around him, particularly his family.Miller amalgamates the archetypal tragic hero with the mundane American citizen. The result is the anti-hero, Willy Loman. He is a simple salesman who constantly aspires to become 'great'. Nevertheless, Willy has a waning career as a salesman and is an aging man who considers himself to be a failure but is incapable of consciously admitting it. As a result, the drama of the play lies not so much in its events, but in Willy's deluded perception and recollection of them as the audience gradually witness the tragic demise of a helpless man.In creating Willy Loman, Miller presents the audience with a tragic figure of human proportions. Miller characterises the ordinary man the 'low man' (Loman) and ennobles his achievements. Willy's son, Biff, calls his father a 'prince', evoking a possible comparison with Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Thus, the play appeals greatly to the audience because it elevates an ordinary American to heroic status. Death of a Salesman seems to conform to the 'tragic' tradition that there is an anti-hero whose state of mind causes him to suffer. The audience is compelled to genuinely sympathise with Willy's demise largely because he is an ordinary man who is subject to the same temptations as the rest of us.Miller uses many characters to contrast the difference between success and failure in the American system. Willy Loman is a deluded salesman whose vivid imagination is far greater than his sales ability. Linda, Willy's wife, honourably stands by her husband even in the absence of fundamental realism. To some extent, she acknowledges Willy's aspirations but, naively, she also accepts them. Consequently, Linda is not part of the solution but rather part of the problem within this dysfunctional family and their inability to face reality. In restraining Willy from his quest for wealth in Alaska, the 'New Continent', ironically the only realm where the "dream" can be fulfilled, Linda destroys any hope the family has of achieving 'greatness'. Even so, Linda symbolically embodies the play's ultimate value: love. In her innocent love of Willy, Linda accepts her husband's falsehood, his dream, but, in her...

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