Monday, 10 July 2017

Themes of Death of a Salesman

Themes of Death of a Salesman


DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF THE AMERICAN DREAM


Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream—that a “well liked” and “personally attractive” man in business will indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Oddly, his fixation with the superficial qualities of attractiveness and likeability is at odds with a more gritty, more rewarding understanding of the American Dream that identifies hard work without complaint as the key to success. Willy’s interpretation of likeability is superficial—he  childishly dislikes Bernard because he considers Bernard a nerd. Willy’s blind l faith in his stunted version of the American Dream leads to his rapid psychological decline when he is unable to accept the disparity between the Dream and his own life

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF LIES AND DECEIT


The Lomans are all extremely self-deceptive, and in their respective delusions and blindness to reality, Willy convinces himself that he is successful, well-liked, and that his sons are destined for greatness. Unable to cope with reality, he entirely abandons it through his vivid fantasies and ultimately through suicide. Linda and Happy similarly believe that the Lomans are about to make it big... any day now. Unlike the other members of his family, Biff grows to recognize that he and his family members consistently deceive themselves, and he fights to escape the vicious cycles of lies. It's  gotta be tough being the black sheep.i 

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF NATURE Vs CITY


The towering apartment buildings that
surround Willy 's house, which make it
difficult for him to see the stars and block the sunlight that would allow him to grow a garden in his back yard, represent the artificial world of the city —with all its commercialism and superficiality— encroaching on his little spot of self-determination. He yearns to follow the rugged trail his brother Ben has blazed, by going into the wildernesses of Africa and Alaska in search of diamonds, or even building wooden flutes and selling them on the rural frontier of America as his father did. But Willy is both too timid and too late. He does not have the courage to head out into nature and try his fortune, and, anyway, that world of a wild frontier waiting to be explored no longer exists. Instead, the urban world has replaced the rural, and Willy chooses to throw his lot in with the world of sales, which does not involve making things but rather selling oneself.
Biff and Happy embody these two sides of Willy's personality: the individualist dreamer and the eager- to-please salesman. Biff works with his hands on farms, helping horses give birth, while Happy schemes within the stifling atmosphere of a department store. While Willy collects household appliances and cars, as the American Dream has taught him to do, these things do not ultimately leave him satisfied, and he thinks of his own death in terms of finally venturing into nature, the dark jungle that the limits of his life have never allowed him to enter.



DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF SUCCESS


Throughout Death of a Salesman , Willy pursues concrete evidence of his worth and success. He is entranced by the very physical, tangible results of Ben’s diamond-mining efforts and strives to validate his own life by imagining similar material signifiers of success. Willy projects his own obsession with material achievement onto his sons, who struggle with a conflict between their intangible needs and the pressure to succeed materially. Let's just hope they have better luck than their parents at figuring it all out.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF FATHERS AND SONS


The central conflict of the play is between Willy and his elder son Biff , who showed great promise as a young athlete and ladies' man, but in adulthood has become a thief and drifter with no clear direction. Willy's other son, Happy , while on a more secure career path, is superficial and seems to have no loyalty to anyone.
By delving into Willy's memories, the play is able to trace how the values Willy instilled in his sons—luck over hard work, likability over expertise—led them to disappoint both him and themselves as adults. The dream of grand, easy success that Willy passed on to his sons is both barren and overwhelming, and so Biff and Happy are aimless, producing nothing, and it is Willy who is still working, trying to plant seeds in the middle of the night, in order to give his family sustenance. Biff realizes, at the play's climax, that only by escaping from the dream that Willy has instilled in him will father and son be free to pursue fulfilling lives. Happy never realizes this, and at the end of the play he vows to continue in his father's footsteps, pursuing an American Dream that will leave him empty and alone.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF RESPECT AND
REPUTATION


Reputation is one of Willy’s primary concerns. He thinks that all you need to succeed is to be attractive and well-liked. Ha!—if only it were so easy. He celebrates his son’s popularity in high school, asserting that it is vastly more important to be fawned over than to be honest or talented.

Much of the time, Willy considers
himself a well-liked man. He aspires to be just like a salesman he knew whose death was mourned far and wide. Despite his fixation on reputation, Willy and his family members are neither well-known nor well-liked, and Willy’s funeral is sparsely attended. Harsh.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF APPEARANCES


The entire Loman family places heavy value on appearances and good looks. Many of Willy's fondest memories of Biff involve his son dwarfing others with his personal attractiveness. In addition, when Willy gives in to feelings of self-doubt, he worries that it's his appearance that's holding him back in business. Death of a Salesman may be making a larger statement by showing the Lomans' fixation on attractiveness over real substance—could the play be trying to get across the idea that all of America falls prey to the very same mistake? What do you think? Is America itself way too obsessed with image and appearance?

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF PRIDE


Pride in Death of a Salesman functions as a means of self-deception and as a coping mechanism. The Lomans, and particularly Willy, are extremely proud even though the basis for their pride is not at all founded in reality. Willy celebrates his own "astounding success" in business and the accomplishments of his sons while the Lomans struggle financially. He is too proud to accept a job from Charley, a man whom he considers to be his inferior, yet accepts loans that he's unable to repay. Throughout the play, we're shown that Willy and his family are incredibly proud people with nothing real to be proud of.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF ABANDONMENT


Willy’s life charts a course from one abandonment to the next, leaving him in greater despair each time. Willy’s father leaves him and Ben when Willy is very young, leaving Willy neither a tangible (money) nor an intangible (history) legacy. Ben eventually departs for Alaska, leaving Willy to lose himself in a warped vision of the American Dream. Likely a result of these early experiences, Willy develops a fear of abandonment, which makes him want his family to conform to the American Dream. His efforts to raise perfect sons, however, reflect his inability to understand reality. The young Biff, whom Willy considers the embodiment of promise, drops Willy and Willy’s zealous ambitions for him when he finds out about Willy’s adultery. Biff’s ongoing inability to succeed in business furthers his estrangement from Willy. When, at Frank’s Chop House, Willy finally believes that Biff is on the cusp of greatness, Biff shatters Willy’s illusions and, along with Happy, abandons the deluded, babbling Willy in the washroom.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF FREEDOM AND
CONFINEMENT


The theme of freedom and confinement is closely tied to economic security in Death of a Salesman . Linda and Willy long to escape both the physical confinement of their home and the economic confinement of their limited income, home mortgage, and bills. They idolize faraway lands such as Alaska and Africa as places of literal and figurative escape. Similarly, Biff finds New York to utterly confine him and can only imagine happiness and freedom working with his hands in the wide open West. Ultimately, the play seems to paint America's incredibly competitive version of capitalism as something that traps its citizens. This depiction is pretty ironic since America is supposed to be "the land of the free"—a place where if you work hard, you're freeto make your dreams come true.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
THEME OF BETRAYER


Willy’s primary obsession throughout the play is what he considers to be Biff’s betrayal of his ambitions for him. Willy believes that he has every right to expect Biff to fulfill the promise inherent in him. When Biff walks out on Willy’s ambitions for him, Willy takes this rejection as a personal affront (he associates it with “insult” and “spite”). Willy, after all, is a salesman, and Biff’s ego-crushing rebuff ultimately reflects Willy’s inability to sell him on the American Dream—the product in which Willy himself believes most faithfully. Willy assumes that Biff’s betrayal stems from Biff’s discovery of Willy’s affair with The Woman—a betrayal of Linda’s love. Whereas Willy feels that Biff has betrayed him, Biff feels that Willy, a “phony little fake,” has betrayed him with his unending stream of ego-stroking lies.

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Themes of Death of a Salesman


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