Death of a Salesman

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Date Submitted: 09/08/2016 10:45 PM

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The Tragedy of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman was a dramatic play written by Arthur Miller in 1949. It is often considered to be one of the greatest American plays ever written or performed. Death of a Salesman was also turned into a movie version of the play almost a decade later due to its success. In addition, the play also won Arthur Miller the Pulitzer prize in 1949. In literature, tragedies are most commonly featured in dramatic works to explore the idea of human suffering in order to connect with the audience and gain the sympathy of the crowd. This type of literary genre contains a tragic hero, who encounters an event, or possesses a tragic flaw, that will inevitably led to the downfall of that character. Miller’s play is considered to fulfill the genre of a tragedy as Willy Loman, the main character, plays the role of a lowly salesman and the tragic hero. Miller directly uses the plot of the play to portray a modern day tragedy that mirrors the traditional misfortune of one character.

In Death of a Salesman, the lead character, Willy Loman, is a traveling salesman that believes in the true American Dream and striving for success ("Death of a Salesman."). However, as the play unravels, it reveals Willy’s tragic flaw and emotional instability. Willy’s two sons, Biff and Happy, have not fulfilled their father’s hopes in becoming even better salesmen than he was. Biff is challenged to confront his failures in a way that neither his brother nor father have had to face. The first act of the play is mainly focused on Biff’s frustration with his profession and the financial situation that Willy has caused. Throughout the play, it is understood that there is tension between the relationships of Willy and Biff after Willy realizes that his own son does not want to follow in his footsteps in becoming a salesman. Miller uses literary devices, such as flashbacks, to shed light on the emotional instability of Willy that will lead to his untimely demise. Willy’s...