22 Aug 2022


The play "Death of a Salesman": a classic tragedy

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The play Death of a Salesman first acted in 1949 presents both drama in theatrical works and tragedy. Arthur Miller the author tries to bring out the living difficulty of a common salesperson confined in the desire to achieve recognition at his work place. In the play, Willy Loman, the main character and an aging father who appears to be in his late fifties remains confronted with the reality, having not garnered enough wealth for both of his two sons Biff and Happy. Nonetheless, despite his age he still tries to impress at work, being the founder of the company he works at. The storyline, language, cast and the choice of costumes in the play exhibits the quality of a tragedy wrapped up in drama. However, many issues are open for review and critique in this play. 

The director of the play brings artistic appeal throughout the show. Through this, he exhibits Willy’s sons,Biff and Happy as individuals quite different in character and ambitions. Biff who has worked as a farm laborer in the West returns home after some long time away. He is the only one who has the knowledge of his father having an affair with another woman. Biff reserves this in mind and gathers deep hatred for his father. He however seeks to reunite with the family by trying to get a loan from a former employer to start a business nearby. The meeting does not go well with the investor due to a former grudge they used to have against each other. Happy on the other hand likes women and he spends most of the time chasing after them. 

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Psychological depression and sometimes maniaafflict Willy, because of the stress suffered while in his business. These appeal for great impassive response and pity for the character from a viewer.His wife Linda understands this very well and plays a pivotal role of supporting Willy recover from the distress he acquires from work. From the first scene, she welcomes an exhausted husband who seems to have been busy throughout the day his hustle. Linda is a disturbed woman, she pities her husband for his ailment and with concern, and she usually enquires if her husband had an incidence with the car. 

Occasionally, Willy becomes dissociative. He thus has at times, gets into confusion in reconciling the past events with the present. Willy becomes disillusioned with the achievements of the past. This happens such that he fails to understand why he would need to work so hard to get acknowledgement in a company he was involved in founding. Such lack of proportionate reward from his toil stirs up the emotions of a viewer. 

The play culminates in a tragedy of Willy, the protagonist committing suicide. He forces an accident with his car. Willy takes his life with the belief that his family would receive his insurance benefits for his son Biff to start a business. The dramatic termination of the play through the main character killing himself depicts the intensity of his internal conflicts. Through this, Arthur Miller achieves the benefit of emotional appeal to the audience. 

The choice of the characters in the play is quite appropriate. The author balances the character traits of the participants in the performance to bring clearly bring out the themes. For instance, he chooses Willy, an aged man to represent someone who is likely to have late life crises after having established a family. In himself, Willy is a representative of the common salesperson or any other professional who strives to achieve his ambitions with lots of obstacles. The two sons of Willy each gains his own identity from the first scene of the play, hence this makes a viewer to have interest in predicting their moves. The character of self-reservation as exhibited by Linda balances out the family. Linda becomes the conscience of the family that solves disagreements between the sons and their father and one that strives to keep maintain her husband’s peace of mind. 

The background music that plays in the middle and at the end of each scene weaves appropriately with the prevailing mood at those instances. The costume Willy the protagonist wears accurately describes an aged Jewish character. The lighting however does not explicitly reveal the activities that go on in every scene. For instance, the dim lighting as the play concludes. In the first scene, as Willy enters into the house, the presence of expensive chairs and glassware do not reveal the state of a family that had struggles to establish itself financially. This feature blurs the theme of economical tussle in an average American family setting. 

The thrill that comes with the play makes it worth doing. It brings out themes such as family dispute, economic strife and inner conflicts, which are all relevant in the contemporary society. From the tragedy of Willy taking his own life, there are numerous lessons about conflict resolution within the inner self and reconcilement for the audience to learn. The play as well addresses the present issues of disputes family disagreements between parents and their children, depressive illness in families and financial hardships. The play is as thrilling as the other works of Arthur Miller such as “The American Clock”, which contains times socially conscious themes for any audience that values artistry. 

In conclusion, the play Death of a Salesman is a classic tragedy that achieves the intention of the writer of the play from the first to the last scene. The elements of a well-orchestrated theatrical work are quite evident throughout the show. Iwould recommend the play for a friend to watch for both entertainment and appreciation of stage art. Rather than viewing on a television program, the best place to have the ultimate experience of watching this play is a life performance. 

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