Death Of A Salesman Essay Questions

Pressured to work and achieve the financial successes expected in a post-war society that covets monetary excess, Willy is slowly driven into a state of emotional and mental ruin.

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Loman’s downfall is perhaps the most appealing part of the play and the component of Miller’s work that made so popular.

Willy’s demise is not something out of a fairy tale – it is by his own hand metaphorically and in the end quite literally.

At the end of the play, it is revealed that Linda has made the final payments on the house she and Willy spent their lives paying off, stating that they are finally “free.” Arthur Miller’s story of the destruction of a middle class American worker follows the structure of a classic protest play, or a stage play with a social message. Choudhuri notes the irony of the American Dream is what draws its audience, stating that “democracy proclaims the individual in society to be free, and American democracy, in addition, approves the myth of [Willy’s] infinite success and happiness”; and yet, these same “laws and social conventions constrain and frustrate him in what he has come to believe as the birth-right of a member of the greatest open society”.

Dan Vogel writes on the complexity of Willy’s character and the plot at large, stating that despite Willy’s end, his story is not necessarily a tragedy since “merely tells the story of a little man succumbing to his environment, rather than a great man destroyed through his greatness”; there is “no question of grandeur in such a tragedy”. For Choudhuri, Miller’s approach to the theme of the play is drawn through “undistinguished citizens,” everyman-type characters whose appeal to the typical American audience is in their mundane nature.

Terry Otten writes in , “probably more than any other dramatic play, provokes critical [arguments] about the viability of tragedy in the modern age and particularly in American culture”.

Willy’s descent is found in all aspects of his life, from the stock character of the nuclear family to gainful employment and the desire to achieve and earn more in life.

Scholar Gerald Weales asserts that “for Miller, Willy’s tragedy lies in the fat that he had an alternative he did not take, [and] having chosen the wrong star he reached fro it until he died of stretching”.

A significant part of the play’s popularity is grounded in this clash of ideology – the sparring concepts of American wealth and prosperity with individuality and reality.

The pressure placed on Willy warps the “values of the family and leaves the protagonist unsure of his identity,” which leads to his destruction and ultimately made the play palatable for an audience who may very well have been a collection of Lomans.

Below you will find four outstanding thesis statements for “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller that can be used as essay starters or paper topics.


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