Death of a Salesman compared to "On Firing a salesman"

Essay by Snowmike182High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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The play "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller describes the tragic downfall of Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, and how his demise affects the people around him. The poem "On Firing a Salesman" by James A. Autry describes the life in the salesman business. These two pieces can relate because they have many similar themes and connections. They both describe the tragic life of salesmen.

The opening line from the poem reads "It's like a little murder,

taking his life." This implies that the life of a salesman is always under pressure and eventually leading to the day when he will be replaced. This quote also relates to the play because Willy makes personal sacrifices for his job and he is eventually replaced. It's not just "like a murder," because Willy actually does take his own life. This shows how important his profession was to him and how tragic it was when he lost everything.

Another important section of the poem that can be directly correlated to the play was:

"But what about the prices they pay?

What about gray evenings in the bar car

and smoke-filled clothes and hair

and children already asleep

and wives who say

"you stink"

when they come to bed?

What about the promotions they don't get,

the good accounts they lose

to some kid MBA

because somebody up there

thinks their energy is gone?"

This section discusses the stressors that face the working salesperson. It does not make the life of a salesman seem very appealing being away from home and children, and worrying about being replaced by younger workers. These emotional restraints were very damaging to Willy's character. One could see how his mental health diminished as his career dwindled and the impact it had on his family life. He has...