Essay, Research Paper: Death Of Salesman And Crucible


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Arthur Miller, winner of many literary and dramatic awards, is an incredibly
influential force in American drama. His plays deal with issues common to every
society. He makes the audience face fault, weakness, and ignorance; subjects we
would typical hide from. At the same time he emphasizes strength, human spirit,
and familial love. Alice Griffin believes that Miller's plays are important
internationally (xii). He belongs to an international theater rather than a
regional theater (Heilman 170). His plays are staged and studied by students to
understand American life in Russia, P and, Iceland, Brazil, Italy, France,
Germany, Czech Republic, and China to name a few (Griffin xi). Miller's works
thrived in England. The University of East Angelia named it's center the Arthur
Miller Centre (Griffin 1). They can relate to the sense f identity, honor,
recognition, and familial love (Griffin Preface). In a production in Beijing,
Miller explained to a Chinese actor playing Biff the son's feelings of guilt and
"painfully requited" love for his father, the actor understood as it
is v y Chinese (Morath 79). The phenomenon of Death of a Salesman has been the
same all over the world. Audiences all have a sense of their life story of their
father, uncle, or brother (Griffin 35). In real life Miller had an Uncle Manny
who had two sons ho were in competition with Miller and his brother. Manny ended
his own life because he failed at business. Miller's personal history is
demonstrated in his sensitive and passionate writing in Death of a Salesman
(Griffin 41). The Crucible (1952) was originally intended to be called Those
Familiar Spirits, referring to a spirit that a witch presumably sends out to
torment her victims. However, the well area at the bottom of a blast furnace is
known as the crucible, it is whe the molten steels collects being entirely
broken down due to immense heat. Miller thought that this was a precise metaphor
for what happened in Salem. Crucible also means a harsh trial or examination.
John Proctor's integrity was surely investigated. He chose to die instead of
confessing to being evil. According to Raymond Williams, The Crucible is a
powerfully successful dramatization of the notorious witch trials of Salem. It
is technically less interesting than its previous ones because it is b ed on a
historical event which is explicit enough to solve, the difficult dramatic
problems which Miller had originally set himself. Miller brilliantly expresses a
particular crisis "the modern witch hunt" in his own society, but it
is not often, in ou own world, that the issues and statements so clearly emerge
in a naturally dramatic form (13). Miller used the Salem Witch Trials of the
17th century, to make an indirect, but assertive comment upon McCarthyism in
American life (Richard Watt, Jr. 536). In 1953, when the play was produced, the
United States was in social and political turmoil. Joseph McCarthy a Senator
from Wisconsin and the play in comparison were both significantly politically
infamous. The Senator was responsible for the investiga ons to find communists
in the State Department, Hollywood, and the U.S. Army. These investigations
created fear and suspicion within our society. McCarthy was eventually found
guilty of misusing his authority (Watts vii). Before being found guilty S ator
McCarthy accused the Democratic administration of sheltering and helping
Communists in the American government. It was a fearful time similar to that in
Salem. The United States government called McCarthy's activities witch-hunts. In
The Crucibl Miller mentions that McCarthy accuses individuals of being Communist
if they opposed him. Any government official who criticized his hearings was
soon found to be defending himself against the charge of being involved in a
Communist conspiracy. Miller mpared McCarthy to the Salem judges in a broad
sense (Cliffnotes 52). In 1953 The Crucible was attacked as a comparison to the
current Senate "witch hunts." Critics said it was not a good play at
that time, however, later it was found to be superior. he House Un-American
Activities Committee summoned Miller to a hearing. Miller refused to name others
as communist sympathizers. He also said that he would only take responsibility
for himself and not others. Miller was fined and given a thirty day s pended
jail sentence because he spoke out like John Proctor in The Crucible (Griffin
7). During the McCarthyism period witnesses refused to answer questions and when
they did they were scorned (Bentley 302). Thousands of people who refused to
answer q stions and confess were executed during the seventeenth century.
Authorities believed that "believing in witches was extensive in America
and Europe" (Cliffnotes 44 - 45). Eric Bentley provides us with information
that "Arthur Miller had tried to apot osize this heroic refusal to speak in
dramatic literature (The Crucible). In real life, unhappily, such refusal was
rendered suspect and ambiguous by its whole background in the life and hates of
the Communist Party" (302). Cushing Scott states that, "Miller has
argued for (the) historical truth (of the play), pointed to its contemporary
parallels, and defined its transhistorical subject as a social process that
includes, but also transcends, the Salem witchcraft trials a the anticommunist
investigations of the 1950's" (128). However, Miller was interested in the
witch trials before he opposed McCarthyism however. He decided to write the play
telling about the fear and hysteria McCarthyism caused. His play makes clea the
facts from the past that sinners and guilty people were mistaken for witches in
Salem (Bu*censored* 128 -129). Elsom writes that Arthur Miller wrote about
witch-hunting in Salem but it was really an indirect commentary on Joe McCarthy
and the congression sub-committees investigating un-American activities. (140)
Joe McCarthy probably thought of Arthur Miller as a "dangerous communist
subversive," but in Europe he was regarded to be agreeably "left
wing" (Elsom 139). After a few years McCarthy had died and the committees
were dissolved. The Crucible was included in schools as a modern classic.
"A political jou alist might have summed up Arthur Miller's achievement
like this: he had helped to rally the moderates against the forces of extreme
right-wing reaction" (Elsom 140). Guilt... was directly responsible for the
'social compliance' which resulted in McCarthy's reign of terror in the 1950's:
'Social compliance'... is the result of the sense of guilt which individuals
strive to conceal by complying... It was a guilt, in this historic sense,
resulting from their awareness that they were not as Rightist as people were
suppose to be (Bu*censored* 133). The Crucible made a statement for the subject
of the free man's fight against emotional terrorism to put him down. Arthur
Miller was completely involved with the social and moral problems of American
society and inevitably made an impact on the world. he danger from Russian
subversion was a more obvious danger than the witch hunts of innocent people in
17th century Massachusetts (Watts viii). The comparison in 1953 was harmful to
Arthur Miller and his drama. The similarities of the two eras dealing ith
freedom of judgment against barbaric control remains an issue today.
Witch-hunting and the evil Salem trials in The Crucible was a work of social
dramatic art making a statement of evil intolerance for global history (Watts
viii). Miller wrote The rucible to prevent history frm repeating itself. Miller
does not use an ordinary plot in The Crucible. "... tension inheres in
episodic conflicts rather than in an over-all advancing action. The sense of an
evolving general situation, so well achieved by tight structure in The
Crucible... is larg y gone" (Heilman 151). Heilman states that Miller,
turned to more vigorous characters who cause suffering rather than
uncomprehendingly suffer, he portrayed an evil rooted in human nature
overwhelming the community, he made advances toward complexity of motive, and he
began to discover inner division (160). In Salem, Massachusetts, a black slave
woman and twelve teenage girls were caught dancing around a bubbling cauldron in
the woods, despite the fact that dancing was not allowed by the Puritans. The
Puritan government ruled the church in 1692 and relig n believed that women who
dance with the Devil are witches. Fearing being hanged the girls blamed each
other. Everyone in the town panicked and began accusing everyone else of
witchcraft. The Puritans believed that the Devil was continually enticing man.
If a person sinned they had to confess it, regret it, a perform some act of
penance. To avoid being hanged many people in The Crucible confessed to sins
they did not commit. Fearing that she would be damned forever Rebecca Nurse
refused to confess. Adultery was one of the worst sins someone could commit. The
Puritans also thought that anything pleasant was the work of the Devil,
therefore, they were a serious and fearful group. It was an atrocious sin for
children to even dance, so to avoid punishment they would pretend to be under
the spell of the Dev . The Puritans believed that a person became a witch by
entering into an agreement with the Devil. They further believed that the Devil
or one of his witches could take over the body of an innocent person (Cliffnotes
44 - 47). It is a complex story b Miller makes it easier because he starts each
new act telling us of the dreadful possibilities and ending each act with the
possibilities happening. Miller uses a repetitive style of questions and answers
forming the rhythm of the play. The story is t d in John Proctor's perspective
(Barron's Booknotes 7 - 8). The Crucible has a narrator, a voice not a
character, that tells us about the characters and the action and helps us to
understand the moral implications. The director of the l958 off-Broadway revival
for The Crucible drew the consequences of the revised text and introduced 'a
narrator,' called The Reader, to set the scenes and give the historical
background of the play. The introduction of a 'narrator' element in The Crucible
is closely related to Miller's attempts to have a separate voice present the
author's view of the 'generalized significance' of the 'action' in the later
play (Overland 57). The Crucible has a "series of non-dramatic interpolated
passages in the first act, where the playwright takes on the roles of historian,
novelist and literary critic, often all at once, speaking himself ex cathedra
rather than through his character ex ena" are concerned with motivation.
"Psychological, religious and socioeconomic explanations of the trials are
given... Miller has also been seen to depart from the second of his basic
principles of playwriting in introducing narrative and expository p sages into
The Crucible" (Overland 57 - 60). Overland writes that Miller tends to
confuse the characters with the real people with the same names from the
seventeenth century, such as Parris, Putnam, Rebecca, and Francis Nurse (60).
"Conflict between a man's raw deeds and his conception of himself,"
poses as the struggle for John Proctor to attain high standards. To understand
the character Proctor it is important to realize his sense of guilt, which is
made clear to us by Elizab h's remarks and his behavior. Individual tragedy to
John Proctor is the back bone of the play. The first Puritans struggled to
survive. John Proctor and John Hale went against the order of the Puritan
society in The Crucible. Reverend Hale declares at the Devil can delude God so
he can certainly fool humans. (Cliffnotes 43). During the witch trials there
would be no half way point it was either black or white. If guilty you were to
be hanged. You had to remain obedient. Rebecca Nurse symbolize a wise woman who
knew her place, the place of the church and the dangers of witchcraft. The
danger could be brought forth at any time within the play. The confrontations
within the play were brought together in precise detail but the powerful were
bro ht to a lower level throughout the play. You could not be fearful or you
would be among the guilty. Ezekiel Cheever arrested Elizabeth Proctor, even
though he was on her side, because he had no other choice. Abigail Williams was
described by Rebecca "the very brick and mortar of the church." All
hell broke loose due to the evil of Abigail Williams, seeking revenge on the
Proctors when John stopped the affair. Miller writes as though he belittles his
characters and condemns them as he sees fit to unt down all dwellers of the
Salem society. The irony was that the purist of the citizens hunted down the
innocent people and plagued them with crimes, when they themselves were now a
part of the crime of the hunt. Hale was the first to come to the re ity to
oppose the view of the court proceedings and terminate his position in the
court. It was better to hang innocent people than to admit to a wrong doing. Old
Goodby Osborne was found guilty of witchcraft because she could not remember the
commandm ts (Cliffnotes 43). Hale later in the play realizes that this is wrong
and tries to convince Proctor to flee for his life which leads to the most
dramatic scene of confrontation. John Proctor is caught in the tangled web he
has woven between his wife, riends, and himself and the entire Salem community.
Proctor did not want to be a part of the trials and was forced to make important
decisions. He was also accused of being a witch. His destiny relies on his
choices. He becomes a rebel against the c rch and now he must sign a confession.
John Hale tries to convince Proctor's wife to get him to sign. Elizabeth replies
with "I think that be the Devils argument." Which means John Proctor
knows inside himself what he will do and no one else will cha e his mind. John
Proctor mulled this over and over and he finally came to a decision. A once weak
man now had the authority to make a commitment to mankind. He has chosen to die
an honest man. "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from hi
" Charity and justice are major features of human relationships, both
public and private. "These issues, therefore, not only frame the play, but
specifically define the relationship between John and Elizabeth Proctor, and
they largely determine the co se of their tragedy" (Bu*censored* 135). We
recognize our own victory over evil from our Puritan past because of the
struggles for justice in characters like John Proctor. The Crucible practically
has all of the qualifications of a successful tragedy as Miller imagines them to
be. "Yet it c not be said to reach 'those heights where the breath fails'
because it lacks something far more important to drama: that sense of vividly
and fully imagined character that made of Willy Loman a kind of modern
Everyman" states Clinton W. Trowbridge (44). It is apparent that Danforth
and Hathorne are a threat to freedom. Proctor is not a threat to freedom because
he does not have the power or authority. The Puritans became dangerous and
powerful in the new world. Also powerful is the richest man in Sa m, Thomas
Putnam. He gets land by having his daughter accuse others of witchcraft. Indeed,
the apparent difference between Proctor and the Puritans serves only to stress
how corrupting power can become in the hands of a certain kind of person, the
Puritan American who is obsessed by his own guilt and driven by the desire to
determine sanctity in himself and in others, and to make it conform to the
visible human being (Bu*censored* 131). It is ironic that Proctor is a victim of
what he opposes. As well as John Proctor adding to his own disaster, the
Reverend John Hale finds that in trying to solve a horror he creates a horror.
"He could be a tragic hero, but his role is minor: throug him, then, the
play has a 'tragic accent' " (Heilman 324 - 325). Arthur Miller was not
satisfied with the original version of The Crucible so he added additional data.
Overland reports that Miller added a scene to explain Abigail's behavior even
though it was not needed (57). Miller does not accomplish artistic d th in The
Crucible "because of his inability to project seventeenth century
sensibilities and thus to sympathize with them." The play, according to
many critics, "is not seriously historical and, therefore, not seriously
literary or political. This pl seems to fail to reach the social, historical,
and moral depth of a great work of art, because it cannot imaginatively conjure
the world that it pretends to describe" (Levin 127). The Crucible, some
critics say, is a controversial and a modern virtuous lay. Miller has created a
community disturbance too far-reaching to result from an evil plot of a simple
villain according to Heilman (144 - 145). "The Crucible is an argument in
favor of moral flexibility. The fundamental flaws in the nature of the Puritan
elders and by extension of the McCarthyites, as Miller sees it, is precisely
their extreme tendency toward moral absolutism" (Bu*censored* 129). wants
to abolish these factors. Critics say that there is a balanced cast of sinners
and non-sinners who deserve our sympathy. Despite the continuing serious crimes
by judges Danforth and Hathorne, there is a moral education in the characters
Hale an Parris. Goody Nurse and Giles Corey symbolize "unabated moral
sanity and good will" (Bu*censored* 130). John Proctor is a basic hero who
opposes evil. He was, however, indiscreet with Abigail Williams, this of course
is only a fabrication by Miller. Mill 's plays constantly stress the value of
the nuclear family, the ties of loyalty between husband and wife, and their
protectiveness towards their children. Marriage can be destroyed... soured by
nagging sexual guilt (as the The Crucible),... it nevertheless remains an
emotional stronghold, the instinctive centre of people's lives, without which
society itself falls in anarchy and self-destruction (Elsom 140 - 141). Proctor
does in some ways represent an enemy to the community because he does not like
the representative of the church. He doesn't go to church regularly and did not
take his sons to be baptized. Moral judgments are made by the good people and
Salem' leaders. "The courts condemn the "witches," to be sure,
and this act is the most flagrant example of over-zealous righteousness in the
play" (Bu*censored* 130). The town is unmerciful in its destruction of
witchcraft. Miller originally thought of naming his play The Inside of His Head
instead of Death of a Salesman. He wanted a huge head to appear and then open up
so that we could see inside. This, in dramatic terms, is expressionism, and
correspondingly the guilt of William Loman is not... a single act, subject to
public process, needing complicated grouping and plotting to make it emerge; it
is rather, the consciousness of a whole life. Thus the expressionist method, in
the final form of the play, is not a casual experiment, but rooted in the
experience. It is the drama of a single mind, and moreover, it would be false to
a more integrated - or less disintegrating - personality (Williams 11 - 12).
Through the years expressionism has become sensitive to the experience of
weakening. It can be categorized in two ways, personal and social. "The
continuity from social expressionism remains clear, however, for I think in the
end it is not Willy Loma as a man, but the image of the Salesman, that
predominates," maintains Williams. The social theme in the alienation of
Willy is his transition from selling goods to selling himself. He becomes the
merchandise which will at some time become economicall useless. The convincing
sense of Death of a Salesman is one of false awareness, "...the conditioned
attitudes in which Loman trains his sons - being broken into by real
consciousness, in actual life and relationships. The expressionist method
embodies his false consciousness much more powerfully than naturalism could
do" (Williams 12). Slang is used perfectly in the play because it is a
result of their lifestyle. In 1950 Death of a Salesman was attacked in America
as part of a communist movement threatening the American way of life and
capitalism. Stage productions and movie shows were closed because Senator Joseph
McCarthy accused individuals in this field o being communists. Actors, writers,
and directors confessed to socialist principals to save their careers. Those who
denied the charges found themselves unemployed (Griffin 5). Death of a Salesman
is one of the lasting plays of our time. It's strength lies in the ability to
evoke sympathy and pity rather than fear and incite anger and controversy
(Trowbridge 43). Probably the most significant comment about Death of a Salesm
is not its literary achievement but the impact it has had on readers and viewers
in America and overseas. Its influence continues to grow in world theatre
(Jackson 36). Death of a Salesman has been described by Professor Francis
Fergusson as "poetry n the theatre" (Jackson 35). It is a myth which
projects before the spectator an image of the protagonist's consciousness. The
playwright attempts to reveal a tragic progression within the consciousness of
the protagonist. He employs, as the instrumentation of vision, a complex theatre
symbol: a union of gesture, word, and music; light, color, and pattern; rhythm
and movement (Jackson 35). The most important asset that playwright Arthur
Miller holds is his knowledge of the theater. He knows that plays must deal with
matters of interest to the public. It is almost impossible to not be impressed
with a play by Miller because they are writ n realistically. "A play,"
according to Miller, "ought to make sense to common-sense people... the
only challenge worth the effort is the widest one and the tallest one, which is
the people themselves" (17). In Tom F. Driver's writings he states that, We
must remember that the only success both popular and critical Miller has had in
this country is Death of a Salesman" (20). He does have weaknesses in his
writings. Miller has too narrow a view of man in society. He has not
investigated human natu fully, restricting him to a specific social theory.
Miller's idea of the real world in which humans must deal is limited and how he
sees life is not extensive. He does not possess the curiosity that would help
him to solve problems. One might say that he sees the issues too soon, sees them
in their preliminary form of social or even moral debate, but not in terms of
dramatic events that disturb the audience's idea of basic truth, which is the
foundation for it's moral attitudes. Miller is a playwright who wants morality
without bothering to speak of a good in the light of which morality would make
sense. Man must be made to create his values and live up to them (Driver 22).
According to Harold Bloom, Miller is not an articulate writer but he is not a
bad writer either. Miller articulates, in language that can be appreciated by
popular audiences, certain new dimensions of the human dilemma (Jackson 36).
Both Death of a Sa sman and The Crucible if properly staged are very effective
dramas. Death of a Salesman is the best of the two, ranking as one of the
half-dozen crucial American plays. There are still many other questions about
the staging of the play that can not be bsolutely answered correctly. Each
person will have different ideas as to why Miller used the music the way he did,
about the way he uses language, about the comic lines and how they should be
read, about the order of the scenes, and about the change f m the present to a
scene from the past because of the use of a certain word and phrase (Schneider
xx). "Yet its literary status seems to me somewhat questionable, which
returns me to the issue of what there is in drama that can survive indifferent
or ev poor writing" (1). "Thus with all our efforts, and good
intentions, we have not yet achieved a theater; and we have not, I believe,
because we do not see life in historic and dramatic terms" (Kernan 2).
"Our greatest novelists and poets continue not see life in historic and
dramatic terms, precisely because our literary tradition remains incurably
Emersonian, and Emerson shrewdly dismissed both history and drama as European
rather than American" (Bloom 2). Whether the play is a narrative or a lyr
al one the American style usually leans towards romance and musing, or something
bizarre, rather than drama. "Miller, a social dramatist, keenly aware of
history, fills an authentic American need, certainly for his own time"
(Bloom 3). Bloom question if it has the aesthetic dignity of tragedy, but no
other American play is worthier of the term, so far (5). The author has captured
a kind of suffering that is universal, probably because his hidden model for
this American tragedy is an ancient Jewish e. Willy Loman is not Jewish, but
there is something about him that is and according to Bloom, "the play does
belong to that undefined entity we can call Jewish literature. The only meaning
of Willy Loman is the pain he suffers, and the pain his fate uses us to suffer.
His tragedy makes sense only in the Freudian world of repression, which happens
also to be the world of normative Jewish memory" (5). In the Jewish
environment everything has already happened and nothing can be new again because
the is a meaning in everything and everything hurts. That order known to Jewish
memory is the secret strength of Death of a Salesman and the reason for its
ability to endure shrewd criticism. Miller wonderfully states that Willy's
decision to die happens hen "he is given his existence...his fatherhood,
for which he has always striven and which until now he could not achieve."
Willy is really a good man who only wanted to earn and have the love of his wife
and sons. Willy is dying throughout the play n because he wants to be successful
but by the common desire to be loved even though he feels he does not deserve
it. "Miller is not one of the masters of metaphor, but in Death of a
Salesman he memorably achieves a pathos that none of us would be wise to
dismiss" (Bloom 6). Deciding if Death of a Salesman is or is not a tragedy
is determined by the reader or viewer interpreting it. "Is Willy, for
instance, a born loser, or is he a game little fighter who, having been sold a
bill of goods about the American Dream, keeps s gging it out against unequal
odds" (Weales xvi)? It is often believed that tragedy only happens to
people of higher status. In Barrett H. Clarks writings he states that Miller
believes that the common man experiences tragedy as well as kings. Miller els
that this should "be obvious in the light of modern psychiatry, which bases
its analysis upon classific formulations, such as the Oedipus and Orestes
complexes, for instance, which were enacted by royal beings, but which apply to
everyone in similar motional situations"(Popkin 537). Tragedy is the result
of man's total duress to judge himself justly according to Miller (Popkin 537).
John Gassner calls Willy a "loud-mouthed dolt and emotional
babe-in-the-woods... and if so, does his love for Biff somehow let him transcend
that characterization" (xvi)? Willy has been called a "low-man"
by Schneider, a "common man" by Eleanor Clark, "victim" by
Wiegand, a "poor, flashy, self-deceiving little man" by Ivor Brown, a
'schizophrenic' by Hynes, and a 'social-martyrdom image' by Raymond Williams.
"Clurman is interested in him as a salesman, but Fuller, who has
understandable interest in alesmen, prefers him as Everyman." Weales also
writes that "Bierman, Hart, and Johnson find a basis conflict between the
salesman and the man in him" (xvii). Willy has a complex personality and
all of these things at once. It is because of all the fa s and lies, the
realities and fantasies that Willy has the potential to actually kill himself.
He does not realize whether he is condemning or defending himself when he speaks
(Weales xvii). Many readers feel that the play is about Biff and that it is a
play about a son's troubles with his father. "Willy's recognition of Biff's
love does not alter his basic self-delusion about success, the audiences
attention, sympathy, concern turn to Bi , who... finds his 'true self,' finds
understanding, pushing Willy out of the spotlight" (Clurman and Gassner
xvii). Schneider states that For me, the Requiem of the play is ironic, the
gathering of people who never understand Willy at all, and how much more
effective it would be if Biff's 'I know who I am, kid,' were taken as still
another sample of Loman self-delusion, the true legacy (the insurance being the
false) of Willy (xviii). Dillingham believes that Linda adds to Willy's plight,
but according to T.C. Worsley Linda is the perfect wife. Willy's wife interacts
with all the people in his life. She cares for their children Happy and Biff.
She washes and mends the clothing and rries about paying bills. She loves and
admires Willy (Griffin 49). Most of the critics believe that Linda is the
character that the audience should admire. Robert Garland feels that she is
"the one character in the play who could see clearly what wa going to
happen. There is no doubt about what that means in the context of the play. It
is not necessary to decide, that Linda is the central character in 'Salesman,'
but it is important to decide just what her function is in the play" (xix).
Accordi to Schneider the lesser characters should not be ignored. Of importance
is Happy's feeling of guilt because he hates his older brother, Biff. It is
questionable whether Charley, Bernard, Howard, or Ben are acceptable character
or stereotypes. "If the lay belongs, as Gassner says it does, in the
tradition of American realism, then those characters may stand out as unreal,
stock. If, however, Miller's borrowing of expressionistic techniques allows him
to use a type character when he needs one to make point, they may be functioning
legitimately within a particular scene" (Schneider xix). Willy is a victim
of ignorance. Willy "the protagonist is still only a man to whom things
happen, who is not capable of even a belated understanding, and who is seen in a
vocational and technological rather than a broadly human context" (Heilman
143). nd according to Heilman, Miller "wrote pathetic drama, the history of
an undivided character experiencing pitiable obsolescence" (160). Miller
tracks suffering to the ancient cause, ignorance and he follows Loman's progress
from ignorance, suffering, t enlightenment. "As in Classic tragedy, the
price of this 'Odyssey' is death, but, through his personal sacrifice, the
protagonist redeems his house, and promises to his posterity yet another
chance." Loman's suicide, as in traditional tragedy, is a con adiction to
his victory over the circumstances (Jackson 35). Arthur Miller structured Death
of a Salesman to show Willy Loman's pleasures, dreams, and hopes of the past.
Thus the central conflict of the play is Willy's inability to differentiate
between reality and illusion. In the opening of the play numerous otifs are
presented. The first being the melody of a flute which suggests a distant,
faraway fantasy: Willy's dream world. This is playing in the background as Willy
enters carrying his burdensome traveling suitcases. He has been a traveling
salesma for the Wagner Company for thirty-four years. Willy left that morning
for a trip and has already returned. He tells his wife Linda that he opened the
windshield of the car to let the warm air in and was quietly driving along when
he found himself drea ng. Later when Linda suggests taking a ride in the country
on Sunday with the windshield open, he realizes that the windshields don't open
on new cars and he was remembering the 1928 Chevy, alluding to his life being an
illusion. Linda would like Will to work in New York so he would not have to
travel, but he refuses as he is, "vital to New England." This is
another illusory motif; the reality is in fact that Willy is a hindrance to the
company. He tells Linda he is, "vital to New England," to cove up his
inability to get a position in New York. Willy asks Linda about his boys, Biff
and Happy, who are home for the first time in years. He can not understand why
Biff, thirty-four years old, can not find a job and keep it. After all, Biff
possesse so much, "personal attractiveness," yet another motif. To
Willy a person must not be liked, but well-liked. When a person is well-liked
the entire world opens up for him, as it did for David Singleman, a salesman who
was so loved and respected that he ent to a town, picked up a phone, and placed
order after order. When David Singleman died at the age of eighty-four buyers
and sellers everywhere attended his funeral, but that was a time when selling
depended on the salesman's personality and not the oduct. Willy sees all the,
"personal attractiveness," in Biff and expects him to have a
successful career. Willy complains he feels all cramped and,
"boxed-in." The bricks and windows in the city make him feel too
closed in and nothing grows anymore. e remembers a good time in his life when
the boys were young and flowers were growing in the backyard, but now the
outside forces are smothering him and he makes useless attempts to plant things
in the backyard. The focus switches from Billy to the two boys talking up in
their bedroom. Biff tells Happy what he has done in the last fourteen years and
the reason he does not keep a job is because when spring rolls around he feels
he has to move on to another pla . Happy talks about having an apartment, a car,
and plenty of girls - all the things he has ever wanted - but he is still
lonely. This is because he has never bothered to find out what he really wants.
Biff says men built like them are meant to work tside in the open air and they
should meet a steady girl to marry. Biff wonders if a man, Bill Oliver, would
remember him. He had stolen a carton of basketballs once, but Happy assures Biff
that he was well-liked by Oliver, a philosophy they learned f m their father.
Downstairs, the boys can hear their father talking to himself and the focus is
brought back down to Willy who is reminiscing a time in 1928 when he came home
from a trip and the two boys were polishing the car. Willy's flashbacks are
always in 1928. This is his last happy year before his break with Biff. Willy
tells young Biff to be careful with the girls and then shows the two boys a
punching bag he has brought home to help Biff improve his timing. The bo are all
excited and Willy notices Biff has a new football. Football is used to symbolize
immaturity in Biff and Willy (Heilman 123). He asks Biff where he got it and
Biff tells Willy he borrowed it from the locker room to practice. Happy says
Biff w l get in trouble, but Willy thinks the coach will "congratulate you
on your initiative." The values Willy is teaching his son about,
"personal attractiveness," leads to more thefts and ultimately to
jail. While all attention is being focused on Biff, ppy announces, "I'm
losing weight, you notice, Pop." Willy, not paying attention, says,
"Try jumping rope." According to Schneider the lesser characters
should not be ignored. Of importance is Happy's feeling of guilt because he
resents his older bro er, Biff (xix). Later Happy lays on his back and pedals
his feet while saying he's lost weight, but still no one notices the
overshadowed son. Willy tells the boys that he will have his own business
someday and he will not have to leave anymore. He t ls them it will be better
than Uncle Charley's because Uncle Charley is, "liked, but he's not
well-liked." Willy also promises to take the boys on a trip through the New
England states so they can see how well-liked he is. In reality Willy knows he
is ot well-liked so he never does take his boys. Bernard enters and tells Biff
they must study because his math teacher has threatened to flunk him. Since Biff
has three athletic scholarships, Willy finds studying unnecessary. He would much
rather see h son practicing or socializing so he can be well-liked. He
encourages Biff to cheat off of Bernard on the final exam. Willy tells his sons
that good marks in school do not mean too much, but instead, "the man who
creates a personal appearance is the m who gets ahead... Be liked and you will
never want." Biff explains to Willy that Bernard is liked, but not
well-liked. It has become evident that Biff is accepting all the values Willy is
instilling in him and not making any of his own. This leads t his downfall.
Willy tells his boys that later in life good marks mean nothing, "Because
the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates
personal interest, is the man who gets ahead." Linda comes on stage
carrying a basket of ash and Willy tells the boys to help their mother. Willy
tells Linda he was great and sold 1,200 gross in Boston and Providence. Linda
figures out how much they owe and Willy knows he only sold 200 gross and his
commission does not cover what they owe So he told Linda the truth. Annoyed with
the need for a new fan belt for the refrigerator he says, "The refrigerator
consumes belts like a goddam maniac. They time those things. They time them so
when you finally pay for them, they're used up." He uld like to own
something before it breaks. When the boys were polishing the car, Willy calls
it, "the greatest car ever built." After he finds out he needs to buy
a new carburetor for the car he has a quick change in temper, "that goddam
Chevrolet, t y ought to prohibit the manufacture of the car." Willy can not
face the reality that he is not a good salesman and can not understand why,
"people don't seem to take to me," and why, "people laugh at
me." He guesses he talks too much, but Linda is alw s there to reinforce
his illusion by telling him how wonderful he is. She also fails to recognize his
limitations and covers them up so he can keep building his illusion. Linda takes
out some silk stockings and begins mending them. Willy thinks Charl is a man of
few words, yet people respect him. Willy worries about his appearance, but Linda
assures him that he is handsome. While Linda is talking a woman appears in
Willy's mind. She is laughing while dressing. It is clear that Willy gets loneso
on the road because he is not as popular as he says. As the woman leaves she
thanks Willy for the stockings. Willy feels guilty and upon returning to the
happier illusion he notices Linda mending her stockings and tells her to stop.
Bernard enters a asks for Biff so they can study because it is a state test and
he can not give Biff the answers. Willy is aggravated by Biff's lack of studying
and threatens to whip him. Then Bernard and Linda begin to criticize Biff as
well and Willy abruptly turns n defense of Biff. Willy tells Biff that he does
not want him to be a worm like Bernard because Biff has spirit and personality.
Happy comes downstairs and Willy is saying he wishes he went to Alaska with his
brother Ben. He says Ben at age seventeen, "walked-into the jungle and when
I was twenty-one I walked out...and by God I was rich." Happy tells Willy
he is going to retir him for life and although that is what Willy wants, he can
not ask his boys for help because then he will have to realize that they are
incapable of helping him. Willy tells his boys the, "...woods are burning.
I can't even drive a car." When Willy s s the woods are burning he means
that life is closing in on him. Ben is Willy's ideal because he had nothing and
ended up rich. The jungle is woods for Willy. Ben conquered the jungle of life
(in its figurative meaning) and Willy is trapped in burnin woods. Thus time is
running out on Willy. Every time we see Ben he has his watch out and says he
only has few more minutes to catch the train. This emphasizes the concept of
time hurrying past man. Ben utilized time while time simply passed Willy by At
this time Charley enters and sends Happy back upstairs. They begin to play cards
and Charley offers Willy a job, but Willy refuses. Ben appears in an illusion
and Willy is talking to Charley and Ben at the same time. Ben is Willy's ideal
success ich Willy would like to obtain. Charley has practical success, which is
not what Willy believes in, so when Ben appears in illusion Willy is anxious to
get rid of Charley, this way Willy can indulge himself in his favorite daydream.
Charley stands for verything opposite of Willy's view of life. Charley is not
well-built, he has no personal attractiveness, he is not adventurous, and he is
not well-liked. But Charley is successful. These are the reasons Willy can not
accept a job from him. It would ean Willy acknowledging that all his ideas in
life were wrong. Charley tells Willy to forget about Biff, but Willy can not
because he would have nothing left to remember. Biff's success is Willy's
purpose to live and later it is his purpose to die. W hout the memories of Biff
and the hopes for a better future, Willy's entire existence is meaningless.
Willy insults Charley on his card playing and Charley goes home. Willy is now
alone with Ben and asks Ben about their parents. Ben tells Willy that eir father
used to make and sell flutes giving more meaning to the flute being played in
the background. Although this implies a similarity of a salesman quality between
Willy and his father, we see that Willy pedals wares already made whereas his
fat r made his own flutes and sold them himself by piling the whole family in a
wagon and driving across the entire midwest. Happy and Biff appear and Willy
tells them that Ben is a genius, "success incarnate." He wants to show
Ben that his boys are magni cent. Ben suddenly trips Biff and tells Biff to
never fight fair with a stranger, "You'll never get out of the jungle that
way." Willy sends his boys to the construction site to steal some lumber in
an effort to show Ben their fearlessness and ruggedne . The stealing of the
lumber relates to Willy's teaching of bad values and Biff's stealing himself out
of every job he will ever have. Charley's reaction to the stealing is that the
boys will get caught and be put in jail just like the other fearless aracters.
Ben says the stock exchange has fearless characters. As well as Biff's approval,
Willy would like Ben's recognition. Willy expects Ben to praise him for having
great sons but Ben merely says they are, "Manly chaps." Linda comes
downstairs to check on Willy, Willy complains about being too crowded and boxed
in, and decides to go for a walk even though he is wearing his slippers. Biff
comes down and asks his mother what is wrong with Willy. She tells him that when
e is away Willy functions much better, but when Biff writes that he is coming
home all of Willy's dreams begin to close in on him and he becomes agitated.
Linda tells Biff not to come home just to see her because he can not be
disrespectful to Willy. ttention, attention must be finally paid to such a
person." Linda tells Biff that after thirty-four years the company has put
Willy back on straight commissions. Biff thinks the company is ungrateful, but
Linda tells him the company is no worse than h two sons. She tells her sons that
Willy goes to Charley every week to borrow $50.00 and tells Linda that it is his
salary. Biff refuses to take all the blame and accuses Willy of being a fake.
Biff calls him a fake because of the scene in the hotel Boston, but does not
tell Linda. Linda tells Biff that Willy is trying to commit suicide. Last month
he had a car wreck, and the insurance company thought it may have been
intentional. After the car accident, she found a rubber hose attached to the s
pipe. This is the first introduction of suicide in the play. Arthur Miller is
trying to prepare the audience to accept Willy's suicide as a result of cause
and effect. Linda tells Biff, "I swear to God! Biff, his life is in your
hands!" Biff says ey all should have worked out in the open, "mixing
cement on some open plain, or... be a carpenter." Willy has just entered
and represses these physical urges saying that even, "your Grandfather was
better than a carpenter." Thus Willy's dreams make h aim higher than his
heart would like. Biff and Willy argue and Willy tells Biff not to curse in the
house. Then Biff, referring to the hotel scene in Boston, asks, "When did
you get so clean?" Happy tells Willy that Biff is going to see Bill Oliver.
Willy gets excited over the idea and tells Biff to wear a dark suit, to talk as
little as possible, and not to tell any jokes. Willy was being realistic,
teaching Biff not to be like Willy Loman, but to conduct himself as Charley
would. Biff says he wi ask for $10,000.00 and Willy tells him to ask for
$15,000.00 because if you start out big you end up big. Contrary to before Willy
gets caught up in his illusions and tells him to begin with some jokes because
"personality" always wins the day. Not o y is Willy getting caught up
in his dreams but even Biff is beginning to believe that Oliver will lend him
this large sum. When Linda puts in a few words Willy yells at her to stop
interrupting. It gets to the point where Biff can't take it anymore and emands
that Willy not "yell at her." Subconsciously Willy takes out his own
sense of guilt by yelling at his wife. Biff is upset by this, yells at Willy,
and Willy leaves. Linda follows Willy up to the bedroom and Linda reminds Willy
that the plumbi needs to be fixed. Now Willy feels everything is falling to
pieces. The two boys come in to say good-night. Willy falls back into his dreams
and could only think of Biff's greatness. He gives Biff more advice about what
to do in the interview with iver and Biff begins to feel the greatness in
himself. While Willy is reminiscing about Biff's greatness, Happy, feeling
overshadowed by Biff, tries to get his parents' attention by saying, "I'm
gonna get married." This serves the same purpose as "I'm osing
weight," in the earlier scenes. Biff goes down to the kitchen and removes
the rubber tubing, ending Act I on the thought of suicide. Act II opens up with
a touch of hope and joy. Willy wakes up after a good night's sleep and finds
that Biff has already left to see Oliver. Willy feels good and would like to buy
some seeds to see if they will grow in the backyard because he has a st ng need
to create something material to leave behind, something Ben says, one can see
and touch. Willy is determined to tell Howard he needs a New York job. On his
way out Linda reminds him of the bills they owe. Willy resents the refrigerator
repair ill because he bought an off-brand while Charley bought a well-advertised
brand that has never needed any repairs. Willy also has one last payment on the
mortgage and the house finally belongs to them. Linda tells Willy he is to meet
Biff and Happy fo dinner. Once again Willy asks Linda to stop mending her
stockings. Willy is at Howard's office and is not only denied a job in New York
but was fired from the firm. Willy pleads saying he would only need a few
dollars a week, reminding Howard of how many years he has been with the company,
and the promises made to hi by Howard's father. "You can't eat the orange
and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit." He also told him
the story about David Singleman. Willy tells Howard he averaged $170.00 a week
back in 1928, but Howard states that he never aver ed so much. Howard suggests
that Willy gets help from his sons, but Willy can't go to them because the fact
that they are fine boys is a part of Willy's lies and illusions. Right after
being fired and hitting an all time low, Ben appears offering Will a job in
Alaska, but Linda reminds Willy of the partnership promised by old man Wagner.
Willy has to miss out on this opportunity to go to Alaska with Ben because he is
trapped in his lies about his position in the Wagner firm. Willy tells Ben he is
b lding something, personality and connections. Ben's idea of building something
is so you can "lay your hand on it." Since Willy has nothing tangible
he tries to grow things in the backyard. Ben leaves and everyone is in a rush to
go to Ebbets Field f Biff's football game. As everyone is getting in the car
Charley appears pretending not to know that they are going to see Biff's game.
Willy become very agitated and his display of fury shows his immaturity. While
thinking about the past Willy has been walking to Charley's office and is at the
height of his anger upon arriving at Charley's to borrow money. Willy talks to
Bernard and is impressed that Bernard will be playing tennis with his own tennis
rack s on some private courts. Willy seeks Bernard's advice about where Biff,
the popular athlete, went wrong, but once Bernard said the two boys fought for
no reason after Biff came home from Boston, Willy becomes defensive and yells
angrily at him. Charl enters and sends Bernard off to the train so he can argue
a case before the Supreme Court. Willy asks Charley for $110.00 so he can pay
his insurance. Charley offers Willy a job but Willy insists that he has one. In
a small argument Charley asks, "W n the hell are you going to grow
up," a question he asked in the previous flashback. When Charley asks Willy
how much he needs, Willy admits that he has been fired, but still refuses to
work for Charley. If Willy worked for Charley it would be an adm sion that his
life has been a failure. Charley gives Willy the money and Willy says that a man
ends up worth more dead than alive. Before leaving Willy realizes that Charley,
whom he previously felt was an enemy, is actually the only friend he has. Happy
and Biff are at the restaurant. Happy is flirting with a girl and when she
leaves to find a friend to join them, Biff explains how he had to wait all day
to see Oliver who did not remember him. Biff discovers, "What a ridiculous
lie my whole li has been." He has always stolen as a result of feeling
neglected. The fright of seeing himself for what he really is, caused Biff to
steal Oliver's fountain pen. Happy opposes telling the truth to Willy, but when
Willy joins them in the restaurant B f tries to make Willy understand reality.
Biff's attempt to communicate with his father and bring him out of his world of
illusion is unsuccessful. In despair Biff cries to Happy, "I can't talk to
him!" The failure of Biff with Oliver brings to Willy mind the failure Biff
was in math. As Biff tells the truth, Willy's dreams overpower Biff's realistic
talk. Willy closes his mind to reality and feels that Biff is spiting him
because Biff refuses to do as he says. The break in Willy and Biff's rela onship
was a result of the woman in Willy's room in Boston. Willy blames the hotel
discovery on the fact that Biff failed math. "If you hadn't flunked,
you'd've been set by now!" Willy hears a woman's voice asking him to open
the door and he gets fri tened and goes to the bathroom. While he is in there
Happy wants to leave. Biff says Willy is, "A fine, troubled prince. A
hard-working unappreciated prince. A pal, you understand? A good companion.
Always for his boys." This is a sudden change fro his calling Willy a fake
earlier. This is because Biff has come out of Willy's world of illusions and has
begun functioning on reality. Looking back on Willy he notices Willy's faults
but now can see lots of values. This realization makes him beg Hap to help him
reach Willy. Happy wants to leave and Biff accuses him of not caring about his
father. Happy denies his father, "No, that's not my father. He's just a
guy." This is a result of the brutal rejection Happy has been subjected to
throughout he play. "Death of a Salesman illustrated the ruin of a family
because the father was a failure. Domestic happiness was shown to depend, not
just on personal relationship, but on the way in which men and women coped with
the injustices of society" (Elsom 139). Throughout the play we have seen
Willy's guilt when Linda mends her stockings, we have heard the laughing of
another woman, and we have heard Biff call his father a fake. While Willy was in
the bathroom the two boys left with the girls. This next flashb k is the
climatic failure in Willy's relationship with his son Biff. The flashback brings
us to Willy's hotel room in Boston. Biff knocks on the door continuously and
Willy tells the woman to hide in the bathroom. Willy opens the door and Biff
tells m that he has flunked math. Biff showed Willy the imitation he gave in
front of the class before being caught by the teacher. They both laughed. The
woman hears the laughter and comes out. Willy gets her out of the room as quick
as possible and she mands the stockings Willy promised her. Biff accuses Willy
of being a liar, a fake, and giving away "Mama's stockings." Suddenly
Stanley, the waiter at the restaurant, interrupts Willy's flashback and tells
him that Happy and Biff have left with the girls. Willy asks if there is a seed
store nearby. Now that his world has closed in on him he needs to leave
something ta ible behind. Biff and Happy come home with flowers for Linda. She
throws them on the floor and yells at her sons for treating their own father
worse than a stranger. Happy begins to lie, saying that they had a good time,
but Biff stops him and agrees with his mot r. Biff hears a noise outside and
Linda tells him that Willy is planting his garden. Now we see Willy outside
talking to Ben he thinks Biff has been spiting him all of his life and that if
Biff sees the number of people at Willy's funeral then he will ave respect for
him. At the same time, Biff will have $20,000.00 in his pocket. With that sum he
could truly be magnificent. Willy's talking to Ben has convinced himself that he
has finished his life. So rather than, "stand here the rest of my life
nging up a zero," he decides he will commit suicide. Biff comes out to
Willy to let him know he is leaving for good and to ask for help to tell Linda.
Willy refuses and warns Biff that spite will destroy him. Willy wants to talk
about Oliver, but Bi has finally connected his thefts with Willy's philosophy of
being well-liked. Biff becomes angry and confronts Willy with the rubber hose.
He tells Willy that they should tell the truth. He says that he has stolen
himself out "of every good job sinc high school." Biff also tells
Willy, "You blew me so full of hot air I can never stand taking orders from
anybody." Biff has come to realize that his father is just a,
"hard-working drummer," and he sees that he is, "nothing! I'm
nothing." Biff trie to get Willy to "take that phony dream and burn it
before something happens." Biff is trying to make Willy face reality, but
ironically Biff's attempt only convinces Willy that his dreams are right. Biff
becomes so infuriated that he suddenly breaks d n and cries, asking Willy to
burn his world of illusions. This makes Willy feel he is needed by Biff and
motivates him to commit suicide because now he feels he will be leaving
something for Biff. Willy was amazed that Biff still loves him and doesn't ate
or want to spite him. Willy says, "Isn't that a remarkable thing." Ben
reappears and after Happy and Linda go to bed Ben reminds Willy that its,
"Time William, time." With life closing in around him, Willy gets into
his car and enters the jungle o death. Miller wonderfully states that Willy's
decision to die happens when "he is given his existence... his fatherhood,
for which he has always striven and which until now he could not achieve."
Willy is really a good man who only wanted to earn and ve the love of his wife
and sons. Willy is dying throughout the play not because he wants to be
successful but by the common desire to be loved even though he feels he does not
deserve it. Miller is not one of the masters of metaphor, but he memorably
chieves a pathos that none of us would be wise to reject (Bloom 6). Willy's life
has been a struggle to get something paid for before it is all used up. He had
finally succeeded in paying for his house before it was all used up, the only
problem is his life is all used up. As a general rule, to which there may be
exceptions unknown to me, think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are
in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need by, to
secure one thing - his sense of personal dignity. From Orestes to Hamlet. Medea
to Macbeth, the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain
his 'rightful' position in society... Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a
man's total compulsion to evaluate himself justly... His 'tragic flaw,' a
failing that is not peculiar to grand or elevated characters. Nor is it
necessarily a weakness... his inherent unwillingness to remain passive in the
face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity, his image of his
rightful status... those who act against the scheme of things that degrades
them, and in the process of action everything we have accepted out of fear of
insensitivity or ignorance is shaken before us and examined, and from this total
onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos surrounding us -
from this total examination of the 'unchangeable' environment - comes the terror
and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy (Levin 171). A few days
later Charley, Linda, and the boys went to Willy's funeral. They were the only
ones there; no sellers, no buyers, not even Howard came to pay their respects.
This is the final proof that Willy was not well-liked, his dreams were phony,
and is whole life was one big illusion. Biff comments on Willy having all the
wrong dreams, but Charley says a salesman has to dream. This shows Biff now has
a firmer grasp on reality, but Happy is as lost in his world of dreams as Willy
was. While the ot rs walk away Linda remains at the grave a few minutes. She
tells Willy that she made the last payment on the house that day, but now there
is no one to live there. This is ironic because early in the play Linda told
Willy the whole house smelled of sh ing lotion after the boys had left. Willy
says, "Figure it out. Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own
it, and there's nobody to live in it." For Willy, death was an escape from
feeling boxed-in by the city and by the people around him, ut now, ironically,
Willy is boxed-in by his grave. The play closes with a melody of a flute.
Miller's main problem in his writing is the conflict of themes. It is hard to
determine whether his play is about politics or sex. If the important scene in
Death of a Salesman is the one with the tape recorder then it is political,
however, if it is bout sex then the important scene is the one in the Boston
hotel. John Mander and Eric Bentley agree with this criticism. They also agree
that The Crucible may not be about McCarthy but about love in the seventeenth
century (Overland 52). "More sympa etic critics find that the plays
successfully embody the author's intentions of dramatizing a synthesis of the
two kinds of motivation, Edward Murry, for instance, has made the same
observations as have Bentley and Mander, but in his view the difficulty f
branding Miller wither a 'social' or a 'psychological' dramatist points to a
strength rather than to a flaw in his work: 'At his best, Miller has avoided the
extremes of clinical psychiatric case studies on the one hand and mere
sociological reports the other... he has indicated.... how the dramatist might
maintain in delicate balance both personal and social motivation'"
(Overland 52). The hotel room scene has an enormous impact that it has a
tendency to diminish the other scenes of Willy's dile a. "If the play is
read, if one treats it as one would a novel, balance is restored and a good case
may be made for a successful synthesis of 'psychological' or 'social' motivation
as argued, for instance, by Edward Murray" (Overland 55). In Death of a
Salesman we can see the influences by O'Neill on Miller's work. "The
disintegrating protagonist might also have come from Tennessee Williams, though
in Williams' hands Willy Loman would have had a flamboyant self-destructiveness
rather t n an unchangeable habit of knocking his head against a wall of
unapprehended actuality. But Death of a Salesman does not represent the mature
Miller. He became more independent, more forceful, and more deeply imaginative
in The Crucible (1953)" (Heilm 142). Lee Fischer works are
"thematically and technically influenced by Arthur Miller's Death of a
Salesman," reflects Jens Kistrup (855). In Death of a Salesman and The
Crucible Miller seems to demonstrate a superiority to other American dramatists
in the representative interpretation of universal dimensions of accumulated
experience. He tries to investigate the reasons that men are res nsible for
their actions. Death of a Salesman and The Crucible is an investigation of man's
existence. Death of a Salesman seems to mimic classic tragedy mainly in its
acceptance of the principle of the responsibility of the individual. Like other
co emporary genre, the protagonist is the common man. "Perhaps of greater
importance is the fact that it removes the ground of the tragic conflict from
outer event to inner consciousness" (Jackson 28 - 31). Willy Loman and John
Proctor exhibit Miller's c cept of the tragic hero. Both of them struggling to
maintain the image they have of themselves. Miller maintains that this is the
prime criterion of tragedy (Nicoll 798). Loman's suicide, as in traditional
tragedy, is a contradiction to his victory o r the circumstances. "It is an
act of love, intended to redeem his house. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
is, perhaps, to this time, the most mature example of a myth of contemporary
life" (Jackson 35). Miller's creative genius has made an impact on the
world of drama for years to come. Many upcoming characters will be influenced by
the dramatic roles of Willy Loman and John Proctor. These two plays bring a
succession of conflicts to a dramatic end: having each man die with dignity.

BibliographyBentley, Eric. Theatre of War. New York: The Viking Press, 1972. Bloom,
Harold (ed.). Arthur Miller. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. Ellwood,
Robert S. "Witchcraft." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99. Microsoft
Corporation. 07 Dec. 1999. Elsom, John. Erotic Theatre. New York: Taplinger
Publishing Co., Inc., 1973. Griffin, Alice. Understanding Arthur Miller.
Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Heilman, Robert Bechtold.
The Iceman, The Arsonist, and the Troubled Agent. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 1973. Levin, Richard. Tragedy: Plays, Theory, and Criticism.
New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1960. Miller, Arthur. The Crucible.
New York: Bantam Books, 1959. Morath, Inge. Salesman in Beijing. New York: The
Viking Press, 1983. Nicoll, Allardyc. World Drama. London: George G. Harrap
& Co. Ltd., 1976. Popkin, Henry (ed.). European Theories of the Drama. New
York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1969. Weales, Gerald (ed.). Death of a Salesman.
New York: Penguin Books, 1977.
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In the play, " Death of a Salesman" , Arthur Miller depicts a typical dysfunctional family. This is Arthur Miller's best-known and most important problem play. It is a symbolic and in part ...
Well anywise Willy Loman was played by Dustin Hoffman and well he did a great job portraying his charter. And he did very well. The move well little slow to the start but after it introduced all the ...
Arthur Miller is one of the most renowned and important American playwrights to ever live. His works include, among others, The Crucible and A View from the Bridge. The plays he has written have been...
All of the characters in the performance “Death of a Salesman” have special traits that are indicative of their personality and literary purpose in the piece. Each serves a particular purpose and sym...