How much importance can one give to success, and how much is one willing to push their limits in order to be successful? Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is a play written in the 50’s which depicts the life of a travelling salesman, Willy Loman, and his family. This dramatic play is considered to be a tragedy due to the conflicts within the plot.
Willy Loman struggles to make ends meet with his low salary even though he works long and hard hours travelling and lifting his valises. It also doesn’t help that he’s delusional and pretends to be successful. All this, while talking to himself about old memories and slowly going crazy. Luckily he has a caring and understanding wife, Linda, who wishes for nothing more than a happy family. His two sons, however, have struggles of their own while trying to meet their dad’s high expectations. The younger son, Happy, has a job and is working up the ranks while also getting girls, but he’s lonely. The older son, 34 year old Biff, practically stopped living after his big high-school football game. He has no stable job to speak of and a lack of motivation. As the play goes on, more and more is revealed about the life of Willy Loman and what being well-liked and successful meant to him.
There are many reasons why one can consider Death of a Salesman as a tragedy. These reasons may include the main protagonist’s characteristics and what changes he might have undergone in the play. Firstly, Willy’s downfall as a salesman shows that he is flawed and unsuccessful. He also shows pride by not accepting help from others unless he’s desperate and by pretending to be successful. Another one of his flaws is that he’s unfaithful. Even though he has a caring wife, he cheated on her. In addition he begins to develop mental illness. Another reason one may consider the play to be a tragedy is the fact that the main characters, especially Willy, must make big decisions throughout. Willy must chose between life and death at one point as he contemplates suicide. We can also see that he was doomed from the start through his constant flashbacks, his lack of success and by how his sons were raised.
The blackout poem above matches the play through tone, imagery and diction. This poem is meant to represent Biff’s feelings after he discovered his dad was unfaithful and how he began to drift from his dad. The tone is melancholic, surprised and somber, as this is likely how Biff felt upon discovering his dad’s disloyalty. The image drawn is Biff burning his « University of Virginia » sneakers in devastation as he ponders upon what his dad has done. Lastly, the words chosen from the book page fit the plot well. For example, “he had some woman in New York” describes how Willy had a mistress which he used to cheat on Linda.
In conclusion, Death of a Salesman is a tragic play which depicts an unsuccessful, flawed and unfortunate salesman and his troubled family. One can consider this play as a tragedy because of Willy and his pride as well as the big decisions made throughout the play. Lastly, the blackout poem above fits the play through it’s attitude, the pictures drawn, and the choice of words.