Arthur Miller's "Death Of A Salesman"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade January 2002

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In Arthur Miller'sThe Death of a Salesman, I believe the meaning of the title was beyond the physical death of the salesman, but more the death of character and integrity of the salesman. The play is based around the character Willy Loeman, a washed up, burned out, salesman who's life is currently in shambles. He escapes this meaningless existence throughout the play through flashbacks of memories past. He also has strong suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

I feel the first flashback at the start of the play really gives a clue as to what's going through Willy's mind. He comes into his home telling his wife of how he was driving with the windshield down and the wind in his face, enjoying the air, when he drifted off in thought and started to drive off the road. He shortly recalls his car doesn't have a windshield you can take off, that's only on old cars, like his 1928 Chevy.

I feel for him to be able to take the windshield off and being able to drive with the wind in his face is of symbolizes a happy, care free state of being. This state is something that for Willy, has disappeared over time, and is no more than a memory. Maybe his discontent with life, has brought him to remember his once care free state.

Willy has a wife and two son's Happy, and Biff. He has a very bad relationship with Biff, they constantly argue and Biff is always saying how he hates his father. I felt each were difficult with the other because of disappoints on the other's part. For instance it seemed as though Willy continually built his son up in his mind, and that to him, Biff was gold and would be a great salesman. But Biff didn't believe in the nonsense of buying, selling, and "working 50 weeks a year for 2 weeks vacation", and would let his father down a lot by not following his father's dream.

Biff appears to be a dreamer. He likes the idea of a care free life. He doesn't see purpose in working your life to end up like his father who is a rambling, delusional, fool. He speaks many times of taking his shirt off and feeling the wind and sun. Yet another connotation I feel to the care free state of being they both he and his father seem to aspire.

The reason Biff seems to hate his father at first is because his father is a rambling fool, but as the play progresses you learn that is not the case. I feel the disappointment that Biff had for his father, which caused his difficulties with him, was that when Biff had failed his math class and came down to Boston where Willy worked, to tell him, Biff had found him with another woman. From Willy's memories it seemed up until that point they were as close as could be. However it appears that all the trust that Biff had for his father being a spectacular guy, were destroyed when he saw that woman.

Aside from a disheveled family life Willy's job is not what it used to be. He hasn't made any money in awhile. His home reflects his current state of affairs, while the home in his memories, is new, fresh, and well kept, the home in his present life is dreary and run down. Towards the end of the play he loses his job and that is when everything really came together for me.

To please his father because of his emotional state of losing his job, Biff agrees to please him by taking the job his father wanted him to take. He let's his father know how much he loves him, and cries to him promising to do him good. His father is touched by this and breaks into tears, he finally knows his son was not just trying to spite him. With this he tells everyone goodnight and they all go off to bed except for Willy. There is happiness in the house for the first time in nearly 15 years and Willy sits and recognizes this. He sets himself up in coat and hat, lovingly hushing his wife's calling so as not to disturb the precious memory, and walks out the door to end his life as he remembered it.

I feel that Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, had more meaning than the salesman's physical death. It showed how a man does have farther to fall after hitting rock bottom. It showed what happens to a man after all he has left are his dreams and his failures.