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Research paper topic: Arthur Millers Death Of A Salesman 1949, 1977 Portrays A Man Who Struggles With The Task Of Having A Good Family Relationship - 1833 words
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Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949, 1977) portrays a man who struggles with the task of having a good family relationship at home with his wife and two sons, and procrastinating being a successful salesman. The play reveals how procrastination can destroy an individual's life. Through an analysis of the character of Willy Loman and his actions in the five major periods of his life (i.e., sending Biff to college and showing interest in his football ability, paying the last house payment on the house, getting fires from his job of some thirty-odd years, having Biff catch him cheating on Mrs. Loman, committing suicide by running his car into a tree), the theme is developed. Willy Loman made everything in his life much harder than it really was. He seemed to complain and procrastinate about everything.
Take for example when Willy was supposed to speak with Biffs math teacher to better Biffs grade in the class. Willy said, I'll tell you what Biff, Let me go down there and have a talk with her and see if I can't just fix that grade in there for you! How would you like that, Huh? (1273). Biff really thought his father would go down to the school and straighten everything out with his teacher. Willy Loman never even set the first foot in the doorway towards Biffs school. This showed the power of procrastination that was dwelling over Willy's personality.
Willy couldn't even hold up to his end of the deal for his own son. Mr. Loman had broken another promise from procrastination, but this time it was his own son. Every week Willy Loman has to borrow $50.00 from his next-door neighbor Charley. Every week when Willy borrows the money he tells Charley that next week he will pay him back.
For over 5 years Charley has been hearing this same sentence come out of Willy Loman's mouth every week when he comes to borrow $50.00. The problem is Willy has been working for the same sales firm for over 30 years. When he first began he had a good sales year in 1928. This was the only year in 30 years of sales the Willy had a good month. This was when Willy Loman was both on salary and commission.
Since then his sales ratings have dropped, and he has been taken off of salary, and only given commission. This is why he has to borrow $50.00 from Charley every week and pretend to his wife, Linda that the $50.00 is his paycheck. Willy probably doesn't sell anything because every deal he composes to a buyer is left with broken promises, which Willy is notorious for, and the deal falls through. Take for example, when Willy is talking to Mrs. Loman and says, They don't need me in New York.
I'm the New England man. I'm vital in New England (1224). This quotation perfectly outlays the basis for Willy's procrastinating personality. Not only can Willy break a promise, but also he is always better somewhere else. No matter what the circumstance is for Willy Loman, there is always something better for him elsewhere. At the relative beginning of the play Willy pays the last house payment on his house.
A sense of over joy and accomplishment would come over most people, but Willy and Linda's situation was slightly different. The time it takes to pay off a house is normally closer to retirement in most adults' life. Retirement is normally referred to as the golden years in ones' life. The house is paid off, the children are up and grown, the family is financially stable, the house and everything around it is in perfect working order, and now it is time to enjoy the couple of years you have left in your life. Through Willy's years of procrastinating he has cheated himself short of most of this.
He has no money, and is borrowing $50.00 weekly from the next-door neighbor. His sons are up and grown, but tend to fight and argue with him instead of cherishing the few years left in their father's life. The house is paid off, but it is falling apart as well as everything in it, because Willy has failed to take the time he said he would to hold the house together. Linda is talking about what they have left to pay off after the last house payment is sent in when she says, Well, there's ninety-six for the washing machine. And for the vacuum cleaner there is three and a half due on the sixteenth. Then on the roof you have got twenty-one dollars remaining, but it is still leaking (1234).
The quotation is perfect evidence that explains the whole situation in the Loman household. It backs up the idea that Willy should have been well on top of the maintenance of the house and he wouldn't have had the problem with the roof leaking. As for the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine, most people in Willy and Linda's age group would have had all of this paid off long ago. This also proves as evidence that Willy's procrastination has set him behind. During the play Willy has broken so many promises, that at one point in his life he isn't satisfied with Mrs.
Loman, and cheats on her with another women. The only problem is Biff walks in on his dad and this other women. Willy tries to make an excuse for the whole situation and says, Get out of here! Go back! Go back. This is Mrs. Francis, Biff, she is a buyer. They're painting her room.
Go back, Mrs. Francis, go back (1276). This portrays Willy's procrastination in the light. First of all, he didn't even have the decency to remain faithful to his wife of 30 years. Another promise that he has broken.
The second event that sets the situation off is he doesn't even have the courage to fess up to his own son and tell him he has been having an affair with another women. Biff has just walked in on him cheating on Mrs. Loman, and Willy can't even fess up to his own mistake, and lies once again to his own son. Willy has a major problem with honesty and procrastination. Mr. Loman tends to cover things up or put them off, where as he should be the man he is suppose to be and take the blame for something he did wrong, instead of make up an excuse and divert the blame elsewhere.
About three-quarters of the way through the play, Willy Loman gets fired from his job at the firm, for some 30-odd years. This totally crushes Willy, because this event puts his dishonesty and procrastination in plain view where he realizes he has destroyed one of the only things he has left, his job. Willy then questions how he will ever pay Charley back the money he owes him. All of reality hits Willy at once when he says, I was fired, and I am looking for a little good news to tell your mother, because the woman has waited and the woman has suffered. The gist of it is that I haven't got a story left in my head, Biff.
So don't give me a lecture about the facts and aspects. I am not interested (1270). This is the one major event in the play where Willy realizes what he has done wrong. He realizes he has lied and procrastinated his whole life away, and now he has nothing. Thomas Porter agrees with this view also, and evidence of this is when he says, Willy finishes by facing the harsh fact that his whole life has been a lie. The triumphal ascent of the Alger hero is reversed in every particular.
The rags to riches dream never materializes, and the salesman never escapes his rags (Porter 27). Most people would learn from this mistake, pick back up where they left off, and continue on with their life to better themselves with what little time they have left. Not Willy! No sir! He talks as if he were going to get back up, not let this event slow him down, and better not only his life, but Linda's as well. This is another procrastination by Willy, and his life slowly falls until destruction from here. At the end of the play, Willy kills himself by running his car into a tree. This was not the first time he tried to kill himself. Take for example earlier in the story when Mrs.
Loman finds out Willy has been huffing gas off of the hot water heater in the basement. Another instance is when Linda tells Happy and Biff that the insurance claims adjustor called and the car wrecks Willy had been in were deliberate, and possibly an attempt to commit suicide. The quotation in the play comes when Linda says, He's trying to kill himself. Remember I wrote you that he smashed the car up again? In February? The insurance inspector came. He said that they have evidence that all the accidents in the last year, well they weren't accidents (1246).
Willy's death is a procrastination of his life. He realized that the things he was dishonest about or procrastinated would eventually catch up with him, and when they did they were a lot more troublesome. A few editors also came up with an opinion of Willy's identity also, like when they say, The whole question of Willy's hidden identity is curiously like that in Oedipus. The key words, he does not know who he is, point the parallel almost unmistakably (Bierman, Weales, Hart, and Johnson 269). Willy took the easy way out by killing himself.
He couldn't live up to the events of the day. Killing himself in the end by running his car into a tree was a symbol of what kind of person Willy Loman really was. It portrayed he was a procrastinator, always looking for the easy way out. Willy Loman made everything he did much harder than it really was. He seemed to complain and procrastinate about everything.
Willy's life was not too bad because he had two good sons, a loving wife, and a boss that dealt with his procrastinating personality for many years. Willy's life went through a downhill fall, when it should have been coming uphill. He was nearing retirement, the house was paid off, and his two sons had moved out and started their own lives. Willy Loman could not deal with the circumstances of the time, so he took the easy way out and killed himself. Works Cited Martine, James J. Death of a Salesman. Critical Essays on Arthur Miller. Ed.
Thomas Porter. G.K. Hall and Company, 1979. 21-44. Miller, Arthur.
Death of a Salesman. Text and Criticism. Eds. Gerald Weales, Judah Bierman, James Hart, and Stanley Johnson. 1st Ed. University of Pennsylvania: Penguin Books, 1977. 265-270. Miller Arthur.
Death of a Salesman. Literature; An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1998. 1222-1285.
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