Story so powerful and so moving Essay
Story so powerful and so moving
By what methods does Arthur Miller make Willy Loman’s story so powerful and so moving? In Arthur Millers play “Death of a salesman” he tells the story of the frustrated Willy Loman who has spent his whole life striving for a dream which he has not made possible by the end of his never truly fulfilled career. It is a very powerful play as it gives us a direct insight into the complicated and mixed up workings of a tired, confused mind. I am going to look at the techniques Miller uses to do this so effectively. Arthur Miller has created a strong character to portray is tale.
Willy Loman is a very ordinary man living out his life. Miller opens us up to his thoughts and actions and brings us into his world, and through this shows us the evils of capitalism and the shallowness of the all American dream, which was so predominantly important in so many people’s lives. The point that miller is making is that this perfect image of wealth and professional respect is so unachievable for most people and they will spend their whole lives striving for something that is so unimportant, and torturing themselves over the fact that they have not succeeded.
Willy is not a heroic figure who has fallen, or a pitiful soul who has achieved greatness. He is true to life, living out tragedies and successes like every other man. He is not always admirable, he has his weaknesses as a man and especially as a husband; he is rude to his wife and unfaithful. Willy: “why do you get American when I like Swiss? ” Linda: “I just thought you’d like a change… ” Willy: “I don’t want a change! I want Swiss cheese, why am I always being contradicted” This also demonstrates another important aspect of Willy’s character.
He hates change, in a way he avoids it, which is another reason he is this way. He hasn’t changed with the times and still has the same viewpoints about things that he did when he was young. This emphasises how confused he is, he seems lost in his own world. Willy’s imperfections bring us closer to him as a character as it is much easier to compare ourselves and the people we know to a flawed spirit like him. Miller is highlighting the excessive and unnecessary emphasis that is put upon wealth in modern society.
A man like Willy Loman feels like a failure to his family because he hasn’t become rich. He is desperate to impress his sons but wants them to fulfil his dream for him and so has missed out on building proper relationships with them and has taken their actions in life the wrong way. Such as Biffs desire to be a simple man, with no need for material possessions. Willy takes this as a failure as it is not what he sees to be a strong image of a successful man. When in fact Biff is much more admirable as he has realised the pitiful route his father has gone down and why he has ended up the way he is.
Willy doesn’t appreciate that he doesn’t want to be part of the corporate machine that his father and brother are, striving constantly to be the best. Happy however is the opposite and is blind to the fact that his father’s business has ruined him and he is quickly heading down the same path. He has sold out to the American dream and when he realises, like his father, that he may not have all the money and glory that he expects, he may become a very dangerous and bitter man. “Figure it out. Work a lifetime to pay off a house.
You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it” This tells us at the beginning of the act, Willy’s feelings about his sons. It makes him very troubled that they have left home, his whole life since their birth has been for his sons. Arthur Miller was accused of being a communist and being against American democracy, Which is perhaps why he chooses to focus on these issues so much in his plays. It means that his feelings on the subject of capitalism come from direct experience with the American government and I think this comes across in his writing.
Miller has created a very poignant character in Willy, which makes the story very powerful. It is very easy to feel sympathy for someone when they are failing in so many ways as Willy is, and has not fulfilled their potential. Arthur Miller makes Willy’s character very pathetic in certain scenes, in particular when he is in his boss Howard’s office and is begging him not to fire him. Howard: “then that’s that then, heh? ” Willy: “all right, I’ll go to Boston tomorrow. ” Howard: “no, no” Willy: ” I can’t throw myself on my sons, I’m not a cripple! ”
Howard: “look kid I’m busy this morning” Willy: “(grasping Howard’s arm) Howard, you’ve got to let me go to Boston! ” Willy is begging this man not to fire him, not to force him to admit to the fact that he is in trouble, that things aren’t going, as he would wish. And most importantly to Willy, not showing himself up as a failure to his sons. It is pitiful to see a grown man begging this way and is almost heartbreaking. Willy is so proud in front of his family that he would regress to feeling like a “piece of fruit” in front of this man just to keep up appearances.
The fact that Howard calls Willy “kid” is also quite significant as this is very humiliating for Willy as he is older than Howard and has been working for the company longer than he has. Willy often does this, acting differently in front of different people; this is another way in which Miller shows us how confused and insecure a man he is. He is constantly keeping up all these pretences and as the audience we know that the other characters see straight through them, while Willy thinks he has quite successfully fooled everyone and especially himself.
Miller makes Willy’s conversations with people very strange in a way to make Willy seem completely out of it. He contradicts himself and imagines things, which really shows that he is in his own little world and terribly confused within it. “Biff is a lazy bum! “… “There’s one thing about Biff-he’s not lazy”. These sentences are about three lines apart and are very effective. I think another reason Willy comes across as slightly mad is because his brain is thinking on many different levels-past, present, future, and the subconscious.
Miller uses the different parts and levels of the stage to represent this. Instead of thinking like this inside his head as most of us do, he thinks them very openly but has similar frustrations to us all. What he was meant to achieve, what is the point of his life. Linda is very patient and humours him always, which accentuates the desperation of the situation. Willy: “why don’t you open a window in here, for gods sake? ” Linda: (with infinite patience) “they’re all open, dear. “
Subject: A Story,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 October 2017
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