Death of a Salesman Themes


The Dangers of Modernity

Death of a Salesperson premiered in 1949 on the edge of the 1950s, a decade of unprecedented consumerism and technical advances in America. Many innovations applied specifically to the home: it remained in the 50s that the TELEVISION and the washing machine became typical home things. Miller reveals an ambivalence toward modern items and the modern state of mind. Although Willy Loman is a deeply problematic character, there is something compelling about his fond memories. Modernity accounts for the obsolescence of Willy Loman’s profession – traveling salesmen are quickly becoming obsolete. Considerably, Willy reaches for contemporary items, the car and the gas heating unit, to help him in his suicide efforts.

Gender Relations

In Death of a Salesperson, woman are greatly divided into two categories: Linda and other. The men display a distinct Madonna/whore complex, as they are just able to classify their nurturing and virtuous mom versus the other, simpler ladies readily available (the lady with whom Willy has an affair and Miss Forsythe being two examples). The males curse themselves for being drawn in to the whore-like females but is still drawn to them – and, in an Oedipal minute, Happy laments that he can not discover a woman like his mom. Females themselves are two-dimensional characters in this play. They remain firmly outside the male sphere of organisation, and seem to have no thoughts or desires aside from those pertaining to guys. Even Linda, the strongest female character, is just fixated on a reconciliation between her husband and her kids, selflessly subordinating herself to serve to assist them in their problems.


Madness is a harmful theme for many artists, whose imagination can put them on the edge of what is socially appropriate. Miller, however, treats the quite bourgeois subject of the extended family, so his interposition of the theme of madness is startling. Madness reflects the best technical development of Death of a Salesman– its seamless hops backward and forward in time. The audience or reader rapidly recognizes, nevertheless, that this is based on Willy’s confused perspective. Willy’s madness and dependability as a storyteller become a growing number of a problem as his hallucinations get strength. The reader should choose for themselves how concrete of a character Ben is, for instance, or perhaps how reputable the plot and narrative structure are, when told from the viewpoint of somebody as on the edge as Willy Loman.

Cult of Character

One of Miller’s strategies throughout the play is to acquaint particular characters by having them repeat the exact same key line over and over. Willy’s most typical line is that business people need to be favored, rather than simply liked, and his service strategy is based totally on the idea of a cult of character. He believes that it is not what an individual has the ability to achieve, however who he understands and how he treats them that will get a guy ahead in the world. This perspective is tragically undermined not only by Willy’s failure, however also by that of his boys, who presumed that they could make their way in life using just their appeals and great looks, rather than anymore solid skills.

Fond memories/ remorse

The dominant emotion throughout this play is nostalgia, tinged with remorse. All of the Lomans feel that they have actually made errors or wrong choices. The technical aspects of the play feed this feeling by making smooth shifts backward and forward from better, earlier times in the play. Youth is more matched to the American dream, and Willy’s organisation ideas do not seem as sad or as bankrupt when he has an entire life time ahead of him to show their merit. Biff looks back sentimental for a time that he was a high school athletic hero, and, more importantly, for a time when he did not know that his daddy was a phony and a cheat, and still idolized him.


Bound thoroughly with the concept of the American dream is the concept of opportunity. America claims to be the land of chance, of social movement. Even the poorest guy ought to have the ability to move upward in life through his own hard work. Miller complicates this concept of chance by linking it to time, and showing that new opportunity does not happen over and over once again. Bernard has taken advantage of his opportunities; by studying tough in school, he has actually increased through the ranks of his occupation and is now preparing to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court. Biff, on the other hand, while technically given the exact same opportunities as Bernard, has actually ruined his prospects by a choice that he made at the age of eighteen. There appears to be no going back for Biff, after he made the fatal decision not to finish high school.


In a play which rocks back and forth through various period, one would normally expect to witness some development in the characters involved. Not so in Death of a Salespersons, where the different members of the Loman family are stuck to the same character flaws, in the very same personal ruts throughout time. For his part, Willy does not acknowledge that his organisation principles do not work, and continues to stress the wrong qualities. Biff and Delighted are not only stuck with their childhood names in their youth bed rooms, however also are hobbled by their childhood problems: Biff’s bitterness towards his father and Delighted’s dysfunctional relationship with ladies. In a poignant minute at the end of the play, Willy tries to plant some seeds when he understands that his household has actually not grown at all gradually.

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