Monday, August 27, 2007

Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller

Title: Death of a Salesman
Author: Arthur Miller
ISBN: 0141180978
Publisher: Penguin classics/May 1998
Pages: 144

Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," is an overwhelmingly crafted play that takes drama to the next level. It asks the big question: When it comes time to take our own life's account, as Willy has, will we look back with pride and a sense of accomplishment? Alternatively, will we find ourselves sidestepped and alone, lost in despair? Arthur Miller asks some of life's crucial questions in this powerful play.

The story is about a broken-hearted sales man, Willy Loman. He is a man who is no longer living in the real world but trapped in his own delusional world. He cannot let go of the past no matter how hard he tries, and it is eating him up inside.

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman contends that even if an individual is determined enough to chase a dream to the ends of the earth by any means, his social status remains unchanged and perhaps even diminished. Willy Loman dreams big in order to gain monetary success. Because of societal pressures, he is compelled to think of a way to succeed, and the best way is gain a financial fortune to gain respect. However, he thinks of himself as a self-important individual who makes himself feed on his own ego. His confidence grows, until it becomes overpowering for both his family and himself. As he becomes greedier, his dreams become more exaggerated. The illusion he creates of his world actually sets him up for a catastrophic collapse. Finally, he admits that he has never achieved anything at all in his life. He notices he has nothing else to do but to give up, as he has actually wasted his whole life chasing after an impossible goal.

Miller's depiction of Willy and his underachieving sons imparts a potent warning to those who advocate popularity over hard work and diligence. In the end, though, Willy proves to be a sympathetic character. He views himself as a martyr, as his death will provide a financial handout to his family and the only meaning to his failed life.

Miller uses a simplistic diction and engaging imagery, along with an overlap of reality and phantasm to provide a tale that entertains as well as imparts a lesson in life. Miller's style of flashing back and forth in time with no transitions may be confusing at times for some. However, it still manages to impart a punch in the gut to all those who view the pursuit of material wealth as the ultimate goal in life.