All students will post their initial response to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in this section by clicking on "Comments" above.  Your response should be approximately 250 words.  You MUST give your first name and last name's initial as well as your email address as this will allow the AP teachers to email you if there are any questions or concerns.

 


Comments

Yazmeen N.
06/26/2008 17:57

At first glance, Death of a Salesman did NOT impress me in the least bit. Reading plays is not my forte. However, this piece is certainly an outstanding literary work once read at length. Miller effectively demonstrates the repercussion of time, age and the American dream on an average white-collar worker. Willy Loman bases his life upon the simple ideals of a successful salesman; in doing so he lives in a created reality of propriety and respect, a reality harshly contrasted in specific scenes of the play. It is only through being blindsided by his son's continual failures, the loss of his job and the recollections of his past that he finds brief contentment. This play is executed with a genuine mastery of American literature that Miller has seemed to patent. The character building is beyond flawless, and his use of setting transcends time and dimension. This piece was no doubt an innovative move for 1949.
Depressing. Anyone else?

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Marisa Rieger
06/30/2008 16:48

Willy is a salesman whose life hasn't gone quite like he imagined it would. The whole story is filled with archetypes and morals and illusions. The main archetype is of the lowly salesman--Loman. This archetype represents the American dream. As a starting salesman, Willy has high hopes for the future, everything looks bright, life is good, the idealistic approach to the American dream keeps him going. As his life moves on, he realizes that his job and his life aren't the way he wants it. Very few things are going right. As his success as a salesman deteriorates, so does his American dream. This also represents one of the morals of the story, disillusionment with life. It is almost like the salesman's life, and the archetype pertaining to it is a facade, and only as he gets older does he see through the facade to face a truth that he doesn't want to face. As he faces the truth his mental health deteriorates, finally reaching the point where all lies are stripped away, he has nothing left to hold onto. Faced with the unbearable truth, that he has nothing left, that his American dream has been stripped away, he loses himself, and he commits suicide, unable to face the reality of his life. Herein lies another moral, the loss of innocence, the death of the dream, and finally, the loss of his life--or the shell of what it had become.

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Courtney G.
07/12/2008 15:36

Death of a Salesman looks deep into life as an average worker during 1949. The play shows the strength of the American dream and the drive to be successful in life. However, the entire play does not just focus on the illusions Willy had with his job as a salesman. Instead it also adresses the illusions he concocted about his personal life as well. Specifically, the relationship between himself and Biff is explored by Arthur Miller. Willy would remember how well he and Biff got along in the past, and was reluctant to see things as they really are. Willy lost himself in the past, when life was better and Biff was the apple of his eye. He couldn't realize that perhaps the American dream was slipping through Biff's fingers as much as his own. Biff could see through the illusion, though, and realized his father was not on top of the world like he claimed to be. This reality really hit home when Biff discovered Willy having an affair. That incident took Biff from his father's idillytic world and brought him into reality. Their relationship was never the same, but Willy couldn't grasp that fact. To the last Willy thought of the Biff as the boy that existed in high school, his perfect son. Even to his last moments he thought of his son and Biff's love for Willy, and took his own life so that Biff could have the $20,000 from his life insurance to make something of himself. Death of a Salesman explores many aspects of life, reality and fantasy, and the love a father has for his son, no matter what his drawbacks.

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Laura Young
07/13/2008 16:48

Death of a Salesman can be viewed as an insight to the complicated human psyche. Arthur Miller’s character Willy Loman (the salesman in question) appears to be experiencing the first stages of dementia, although that is not acknowledged in the script. He talks to himself (he is imagining that he is talking to a variety of characters), has vivid flashbacks of when his life went wrong or right, etc. This character has so many different traits in his personality, it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from make-believe with him. He will have claimed to have done one thing, and it will later be revealed that it happened differently. His relationships with his sons also reveal different aspects of his personality. With his oldest son, Biff, it is quite tumultuous. When his son was younger, he was so proud of him for being a star football player. Unfortunately, because of something Willy did, his son became a so-called “Screw-up”. His relationship with his son Happy has been one of neglect. Happy was often overlooked because of Biff. Now, he rebels against the rules of society, bedding as many women as he can. Willy Loman also has an anger management issue in which he “flies off the handle” over little things, such as something insignificant not being prepared properly. He takes out his frustrations on his wife Linda. This usually causes the flashbacks, whether it be a flashback of his sons when they were younger, his successful brother Ben, or of a mysterious woman in Boston. Either way, he is complex and full of regrets.
The play itself actually stirred much controversy when it premiered on The Great White Way (Broadway). It showed the dark side of the supposed American dream. It showed how hard a man can work and still not achieve anything. It was also debated as to the ethnicity of the characters. One critic strongly believed that the family was Jewish, another that they were Irish-American. Arthur Miller later disclosed that the ethnicity did not matter; he just wanted to show how a family functioned when they were strapped for money and how the era of the salesman was coming to an end.
The play itself is a work of literary genius, showing the horrors of one man’s plagued mind.

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Hannah A.
07/14/2008 17:28

In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, he uses the protagonist Willy Loman to show what happens to a person when all their life, they live on the hopes of unrealistic dreams. He shows what might happen to a typical family in the 1940's when put into the situation the Loman's live in. Of course Willy's mental state plays a major role in the course of events in the play.
Willy Loman is an average joe salesman who bases his life on his false hopes and dreams for the future. As his life goes on, things don't get better for the Lomans and Willy's illusions with life become just that, illusions. When reality sets in he can't deal with it, and he uses his dreams as a way to seperate himself from the real world. He loses himself in memories of the past and disturbs his family. All of these situations set off the tone of the play. It is truly dispiriting. Even though there are some blithe scenes in this play, they are really just Willy lost in his deteriorating mind. The diction of the play helps to define the aurthors purpose. His use of language sets the stage for the time period. It also helps to highlight the stress and anger in some scenes, and to show the refuge in the good times in Willy's reminiscene. Miller's use of imagrey is apparent seeing as the book is a play. He has to set up every scene and tells what the stage looks like and where characters move. He tells about the characters expressions and movements. The play has a dismal ending. A unfortunate man dies a sad death after living a life trapped in his world of dreams.

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Jared G.
07/18/2008 21:30

Death of a Salesman can be seen as a window into the mind of a prideful, hard-working and an unappreciated man, whose life has taken a turn for the worst. The play shows the character Willy as a salesman, with a deteriorating mental state due to complicating factors in his everyday life. With a stressful job of driving long distances everyday and private family issues, he was pushed into a state of deep depression. In his own way to coup with living he constantly drifts in and out of memories, while still acting in relative time. As a result, his sons, friends and co-workers all think that he has gone crazy. His loving wife Linda is constantly stressed out about her husband’s health and only wants the family to all get along. Relations between Willy and his son Biff were severed back when Biff was almost out of high school. Since then, the two can't even stay in the same room for long before they begin to argue. Willy constantly lets his pride take over whenever someone says something that he doesn’t like. His mood is constantly changing at the slightest of comments, and he thrashes out in anger at them. Though he might have been well liked in the past, people find him unpleasant to be around and he loses his job because of it. As his stress builds and tensions in his family hit an all-time high, he just loses it. In the end, Willy’s mental state collapsed when he finally took his own life.
The play "Death of a Salesman" gives an in depth look at how wrong life can go. It shows us that not everything in life is pleasant, nor sticking too heavily on one’s pride will have a favorable outcome.

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07/19/2008 15:43

The setting sets up a perfect foundation for the story, a booming city during a time when everyone wanted to live the American dream. That’s the dream Willy Loman wanted. The dream he wanted his sons to strive for.
The characters like Ben, Charley, and Bernard all brought something different, a positive character trait that the main characters (Willy, Happy, and Biff) lacked. Ben was a serious business man with a sense of reality. Charley was practical and intelligent. Bernard was persistent and hard working. Comparing these characters with the Loman boys helps the reader understand what it would have taken for them to be successful.
The internal conflict between Willy and himself, and the external conflict between Willy and father time brought everything together. He had to deal with the many bad parenting and business decisions he made; while dealing with himself getting older and loosing the only career he loved so such in his youth. He starts to regret these choices and you realize why he constantly reminisces; because he can’t accept the truth. He can’t accept that he ruined Biffs life because of his mistakes, and that his life was ending and he hadn’t yet reached that dream.
The setting gave the reader a grasp of the dream the Lomans where striving for. The characters show the reader everything the Lomans were not. Finally the conflict gives you a perspective of what the characters are going through. After taking in all of this, I concluded that the message for Death of a Salesman is: Nothing’s given, you have to work for anything and everything you strive for.

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Colleen K.
07/21/2008 08:23

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a wonderful play written about a man, a salesman named Willy, who only wants the best possible future for his two sons, Happy and Biff.Willy wanted the dream that most people share;the American Dream. the American Dream is different for everybody it might be to start a family or to own a business. The dream for Willy, however, was for his sons.The dream did not come true for him. With time Willy started having mental flashbacks to his past where he acted as if he was there, back in time,in his physical body it would seem he was going crazy.This put strain on his sons and his loving wife,Linda.Biff rarely came home anymore to visit. The relationship between Willy and Biff was on thin ice. Willy wanted Biff to make something of himself by getting a good job and making a lot of money. Biff tried to do just that but, it never happened; for when he flunked math that dream, the dream of becoming a professional football player perished. At the end of the play Biff broke down and cried to his dad. Willy realized that his son loves him. which ultimately leads to his suicide.Charley, willies brother, stated "Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. he's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back-that's and earthquake. And then you got yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you're finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A sales man is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." (page 138) Willy did dream, right to the very end.

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latesha christian
07/21/2008 20:13

before i began to read Death of a Salesman, i did not believe at any point that it would capture my attention. However, as i read futher into the selection ,it came to be interesting.Willy Loman strived to live the American Dream, however, the outcome of what he dreamed was exactly the opposite. being that he was unable to live it through his life, he tries to persue it through his sons. willy soon begins to have flashbacks on his past life and begins to take out what he is going through on his two sons. the whole thought and realization of the fact of his hopes and dreams going down the drain makes him begin to lose his stable state of mind. His whole mentally begins to deteriorate rapidly. The career of a succesful salesman slowly but surely fades away and the American Dream he longed for is now gone.This soon drives him to become more dillusional with life and he then commits suicide. Giving up the little of what he did succeed to achieve in life. This gives a strongly in depth glance to show that what may start your life as being amazing, could also cause the ending of it.

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simone coleman
07/25/2008 17:54

The death of a Saleman well......one its a play and plays just arent my type of books to read.For some odd reason i just cant get into the book.But this book was different.While deciding to go ahead and read the book certain parts had grabbed my attention.The play has its ups and downs.The main topic of this book to me was failure."A broken down man whos life becomes a sad failure."Willy was expecting his sons life to become a perfect successbecause Willys success failed.Willys life was going ood at one time,but tyhen it shifted to the opposite direction.illy in the beginning thought the job of a salesman was wealthy and effiecient.Willy always wondered where he went wrong in life.Willy told his sons,when you get in the big game of successors "ITS NOT WHAT YOU KNOW,BUT WHO YOU KNOW AND WHO YOU ASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH"Happy didnt get any attention so he moved on and did his own thing.Biff began to interact with stealing and etc. This was a big mistake that Willy taught to his children.When willy stopped believing in himself his life became tumbling down.He didnt get much accomplished in his life.Biff finally decided to pursue his own dreams and goals and not follow his fathers.Bigger opportunities came for him when he was on his own.Biff was wealthy and independent.Willy wasnt well liked by others.He acted snobby and uptight,which eventually led to him comitting suicide.Before death he had no job and no money.I think he realized he wasnt important to anyone and his dreams werent coming true.Biff loved his dad and he thought he was a wonderful hero and very talented.Some of his choices werent good ones but he tried.The Death of a Saleman hits different points in life,success being one of the important ones.

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Amanda Lowtz
07/26/2008 16:51

Death of a Salesman is, to say the least, a very depressing story. it is about a salesman right before the Great Depression. He is 68 years old and getting older. He gets fired from his job, he is losing his memory, and he is having "visions" of the past.Trying to figure out what and where his life went wrong. His relationship with his son Biff has went down the tubes and so has his life. He realizes that nothing is the same as when he was younger with his sons. He beleives that there is nothing for him to live for, but his sons do. He kills himself in the end to give his son 20,000 dollars so he can start his life over.

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Amanda Lowtz
07/28/2008 20:19

(continued...didnt count words until now...my mistake) Through the story, Willy keeps having visions of his brother, Ben. I intrepreted it as him thinking of an alternate path. What could have happened if he took the job in Alaska. Willy is living a life of, well, lies. He hoped that his boys would turn out diffrently, especially Biff. he hoped they would become salesman, not ladies men. It is sad how he keeps thinking og the past and not what might be good in the future. In the end, it kills him. throughout the book he tries to kill himself. The boys try to make him happy again, but they fail. They make it worse in the end. This book is not a hopeful loving book, it is sad, full of death, and depressing.

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Shanice Robinson
07/29/2008 17:04

This was an altogether depressing play. The salesman continually reminisced about his two children, Biffy and Happy, who he had put much effort into raising. He reminisced on how they adored him and him to them. As the play progressed, his spontaneous visions of the past began to increase. It is my belief that the closer he got to his death the more these visions persisted. Layered on with this was old age, stress from work, and expecting so much of his sons. Willy, the salesman, wanted his sons to be so much better than he was because deep down he knew he wasn’t as great as he made himself out to be. It was this guilt that drove him to pushing his sons—especially the older one, Biffy—so hard. In a way, Willy didn’t push his sons at all. He put little emphasis on academics and put almost everything on this ‘image’ he wanted his sons to be. He believed that their image would get them to places that were otherwise impossible to go. He wanted his sons to be noticed and well known so as to make their lives easier. Little did he know that it wasn’t simply personality that was needed for respect and success, it was also knowledge. Bernard encompassed this aspect of being successful as he was often portrayed in Willy’s visions as being increasingly concerned about Biffy’s math grades. Bernard himself was quite successful as a man.
Willy might have been old, but he was not very wise. He did not know that a good reputation could only be won by hard work; there was no easy way out of this. His sons had already faced the facts that they would never live up to their father’s expectations though they would lie to comfort their hallucinating father. All Willy’s life he believed that there was this ‘easy’ way of doing things. He looked up to his successful adventurous brother whose personality he admired. The entire reason he became a salesman in the first place was because he thought it would be easy and convenient when he became an old man. Little did he know the diligent work that had to go into being a salesman.
Willy thought that he did pretty well in his occupation, but as the play progressed the reader could decipher that his successes was often exaggerated and though people knew him, that did not automatically mean he would get a lot of sales. As an old man, he did not achieve what he set out to do and his last hope was through his sons. In the salesman’s eyes he had failed and his sons along with him. This meant to him that they no longer loved him. The flames of hope that he had harbored for his sons had been extinguished as he realized how unsuccessful his sons were. It only rekindled at the end when saw Biffy’s tears. His death ensued soon after. To me, I thought it was a twist how he was actually in a good mood when he committed suicide.

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Chelsea Y.
07/30/2008 17:51

Arthur Miller tells of the crisis that Willy Loman encounters in his own personal and professional lives in this play. Willy struggles to reach his own dream of the American dream during that time. As a salesman, he was not able to reach his financial wishes in order to support his family the way he wished. After somewhat failing at reaching his own dream, Willy tries to live through his sons. His eldest son Biff’s seemingly unsuccessful life is Willy’s greatest disappointment. He had extremely high hopes for him and almost put false hope in Biff by telling him he will always succeed. The youngest son, Happy, wasn’t able to grasp a hold of his life either. Willy’s conflict with Biff turns out to be the most disastrous for Willy. Throughout the play, Miller used flashbacks to reveal the history of young Biff and the reasons for his failures. These flashbacks made Willy still believe that one day his son will be known, loved, and rich. Bernard is Biff’s foil. Bernard is smart and did very well in academics at school, and Biff excelled in sports. Biff was expected to become rich and famous as a professional athlete, but he wasn’t able to do that because of his lack of passing grades. Bernard, however, ended up earning himself a great career and life. Willy had hoped and expected his own son to exceed in his life, when in actuality, the boy he said wouldn’t do as well, grew up to be incredibly successful as a lawyer. All the dreams Willy had of his own sons’ lives came out in Bernard. The disappointment and constant conflict between he and his sons, in addition to his own failures, drove Willy insane.

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Arielle C
07/31/2008 17:40

Arthur Miller tells a story of a man who constantly is thinking about the decisions he has made in his life. As he looks back now he realizes that the decisions he has made throughout his life, both professional and personal, may have not been the best. Throughout the play he has flashbacks of decisions he made and he starts to wonder what it would have been like had he took that job in Alaska. Would life have been better for him, his wife, and his two sons? He starts having these flashbacks more often and he starts trying to live the American dream through his sons. Since he could not fulfill the dreams in his lifetime, he wants to help his sons have a successful career. In the end, Willy ends up losing his job and the constant arguements with his sons and all of his failures throughout his life drives him to where he ends up killing himself. One reason he does this is to give his son the opportunity to start a new life with 20,000 dollars he inherits when his father dies. In conclusion, I think this play is trying to show people that life is not always easy and to get where you want to be takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Also, decisions have to be made based on what is in front of you. Everyone can make better decisions if they knew what the outcome would be. "Hine sighy is 20/20." The choices and decisions we make is what makes the world go round, we should learn from all of them good or bad.

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Meaghen U
08/01/2008 11:35

The Death of a Salesman is a classic story about a man who is coming to the end of his rope. Willy Loman tried his whole life to be a salesman, to make it big and make sure his wife and sons had a good life. Unfortunately for him, he kept a mediocre existence in his career, in the end living off commission from his traveling sales job before being fired. Upon the realization of his mediocrity and his lack of success in his chosen field, his tries to push his eldest son, Biff, into sales as well. Biff held much contempt for his father since he was eighteen and caught him in an affair. Linda, Willy’s wife, is the bridge between the two men. She knows Willy is dissatisfied with his life and knows he has tried to end it. Pleading with Biff, she convinces him to let Willy talk him into becoming a salesman. Throughout the play, Willy has flashbacks of when Biff was younger and he himself still had hope and potential. We see through these flashbacks what has occurred in Willy and Biff’s lives that bought them to where they were the play. Willy’s ill- fated life prompts many to pity him. It can be seen differently. Willy- as- the- victim’s flashbacks, which include talking to people long dead, can be seen as the stress of life taking him to the good ole’ days as he tries to cope with his failing life. His outbursts of anger can be seen as nearly the same, life is so hard he can barely handle it and must get his frustrations out. On the other hand, Willy’s flashbacks and outbursts can show Willy’s true character. He yells at his sons for things beyond their control that he often was at fault for. He got angry with his wife for nothing that she was at fault for. He was angry at life and at himself. He was angry he didn’t take an opportunity with his brother, Ben, that could have changed his life for the better. He was angry because he was a reason his son Biff’s life didn’t turn out fabulously either. He was a bitter old man with hate for many things in life, including life himself. In the end, the bitterness was overcome by acceptance. He accepted that he couldn’t change his mistakes in the past nor make Biff’s life right but he could help him from then on. His final flashback was one of his brother Ben. They spoke of his insurance policy, worth twenty thousand dollars and how it might benefit Biff. He used a tried and true method to kill himself by crashing the car, a method he used before without success most likely because he wasn’t sure nor serious about killing himself at that time. Almost everything he argued with his wife about was money and right when they were about to “be in the clear”, he killed himself. The irony is, and I don’t know if this holds true in this time period or in this play, life insurance policies do not pay out when death has been ruled a suicide. If it holds true, he killed himself just as things were getting better, in hopes of helping his son whose life he ruined, all in vain.

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Amanda Lowitz
08/03/2008 08:47

Why do authors feel that examination into life from characters in their last throws of existence, appealing? Do they not realize that younger readers will find this a turn-off? Yes, they must. So, these stories must be written for their older or more sophisticated readers or simply for their own ego’s. This play was very difficult for me to get into. I dissected this play but had a hard time feeling the themes. Language was my only path. First, the use of language in the story was in a word raw. Arthur Miller used metaphors to emphasis some of the theme’s in the story. One great example is the scene where Happy discusses his feelings about his job. Happy states that that he wants to rip off his clothes at work. This image presents the necessary layering or walls people have. The author also uses the word ain’t with his characters to show their ignorance and unpolished views. Syntax was another element used to demonstrate the attention deficit of Willy. He simply was unable to complete his sentences before moving onto another unrelated topic.

My problem was the theme and characters. I could not relate to them. Now, in looking back at the play I could drill deeper in to the characters, focusing on their words. I gather that is why actors so love this story.

There are similar or reoccurring themes with all the stories we are expected to read this summer. The thread connecting all the stories is the examination of life from characters from all age groups. Hum, what do you think our teachers are forcing us to see? LOL.

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Elizabeth Mullen
08/08/2008 07:58

In Death of a Salesman, we are introduced to the life of a working stiff of the late 1940’s. Willy Loman is a middle-aged salesman with a wife and two grown sons. When he was younger, his life was going alright: his eldest son, Biff, was on the track to football stardom, he was doing okay with selling his product, and he was providing for his family the way he desired. Then, Biff failed his senior year of high school and lost his football scholarship. Willy’s productivity began to dwindle. His life was going down the drain.
Ever since he was a young man, Willy strived to live the American Dream. After being disappointed by Biff and himself, his interpretation of that dream becomes distorted. He attempts to form his family into what he believes the All-American Family should be. When this fails, he is driven to lying, adultery, depression, and eventually, suicide.
Biff was supposed to be The Dream Son. He was smart, handsome, and a fine athlete. After losing his football scholarship, he goes off to Alaska. At first, Biff feels as if he is a failure to his father, who he sees as the perfect specimen if perseverance and promise. When he later discovers Willy’s affair, he loses trust in his father and can finally see how demented his father’s dream is.
Willy has been lying to his wife Linda for quite a long time about his work. Everyday, he is selling less and less until he is selling nothing at all. The company is laying him off. Because he feels like a failure and a disappointment, he tells Linda that everything is going great and that he is supposed to be promoted to an office job soon. Little does he know that Linda suspects him. She has found a rubber hose that he left hooked up to the gas heater from his suicide attempts.
In the end, Willy takes his own life. His failures and unhappiness have overwhelmed him. His family is angered and sees his suicide as a selfish choice. They feel that Willy blatantly refused the help they offered him. At his graveside, Linda informs deceased Willy that she made the last payment on their house. She says “I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there’ll be nobody home. We’re free and clear. We’re free…” Finally, one of the things she and Willy desired most has happened, but now Willy is dead and both boys have moved out of the house. There is no one in it but her. Her freedom has come at a terrible price.

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Emily B
08/08/2008 13:31

When told to read Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, I was anything but thrilled. Plays are for performance, in my opinion, and one should not read them unless they are acting in a production of one. Nonetheless, I tried to begin this play with an open mind.
About thirty pages in and my opinions had not changed. The characters were negative and hard to connect with, the stage directions made the story hard to understand, and the constant jumping from Willy's memories, visions and misperceptions of the past and what was really going on made comprehension difficult.
Willy, the main character and so-named salesman was insane and treated his wife, Linda, like dirt. He was anything but likeable from the start. Willy's sons, Biff and Happy, treated Willy like dirt even though Willy gave them his life when Biff and Hap were young. The constant push of Willy's sons to become more than he and to succeed, was what drove Willy mad. Linda, being the only bite-sized taste of goodness and sanity in this whole god-forsaken story, stood by him through it all, supporting him and scolding her sons whenever they let Willy down.
Willy became more and more insane as the story progressed. After the return of Biff and Happy his anger levels were on the rise causing his sanity to lessen by the day. He began having long, detailed conversations with himself set in the past when he and Biff were close and his faith in Biff’s success was still extremely strong. These flashbacks made comprehension of the true storyline difficult. At times people would jump into Willy’s reminisces from the modern time and it became hard to understand what was reality and what was not. In the end, a combination of these things drove Willy do his death.
This story will give anyone a strong emotional response, but it is not for the faint-hearted. It is full of sadness and up until the very end when we find Willy was not as well-liked as he thought by the absence of people at his funeral. It’s hard to believe anyone could truly enjoy Death of a Salesman for it triggers many emotions throughout but none of them are remotely joyous.

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Brittany Clay
08/09/2008 21:14

I found this book to be a bit depressing. Willy's a 63 year old man who's job has stopped paying him salary. He has a wife and two sons and is at wits end. There's nothing more sad then seeing a struggling family. I know what it's like because my mother has struggled her life. I think the main source of conflict for this play is Willy's preception on reality and illusion. For example, Willy thinks that being well liked is the key to success. That's not neccisarily true. Plenty of people are not liked but still successful. Hard work makes success, not being loved by people. In my eyes, his view of being successful is superficial. I think the over all theme of this book is living as a white-collar family. A white picket fence, big back yard, a nice size house with all the "bells and whistles". But because of his superficial views on success, he fails miserably to achieve his goals of taking good care of his family.

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Brittany Clay
08/09/2008 21:58

(Continued...)
His failure of living a wealthy life can be seen viewed as sort of a commentary about society. His suicide at the end towards the end of the book shows that he really cares about his sons. He killed himself so that his benificiaries(sons) can collect his life insurance. He doesnt want them to end up like him and he wants them to live a happy life. He wants them to actually live well and happily instead of just dreaming about it.

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Chauntel R
08/12/2008 11:39

My initial response to Death of a Salesman was filled with mixed emotions. The play explored the lives of those who have big dreams that don’t come true. Willy Loman is a perfect character to fit this category. His dream is to be a successful salesman, one who his sons Biff and Happy can look up to. In the play Willy constantly has flashbacks of his sons when they were younger. Back then they idolized him, while in the present day they resented him. Willy constantly strives to prove to his sons that as long as you are well liked you can get by with everything in life. This in turn, as well as pride becomes the downfall for the Loman men. Towards the end, Willy believes that the only way Biff may ever be proud of him is if he commits suicide. By doing this Biff would be the beneficiary of a 20,000 dollar life insurance policy. The reaction Willy expected from his death is just the opposite of what actually happens. None of his so called friends from all the places he traveled bothered to show up and his family is hurt and disappointed.

The stage directions helped set the mood for the reader. Also the dialogue helped give an idea of the time period and the personality of each character. I think the theme of the play is sometimes dreams don’t come true and unlike Willy Loman you can’t dwell on the failures. You have to move on and work hard so you can at least make the best of things and still have a great life.

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emily wheeler
08/20/2008 12:39

Willy is a salesman in New England whose life hasn't gone quite like he imagined it would. The salesman represents a vision of the American dream. As a starting salesman, Willy has high hopes for the future, everything looks bright, life is good, he has a wonderful wife and children, and the idealistic approach to the American dream keeps him going. As his life moves on, he slowly realizes that his job and his life aren't going the way he wants it. As his success inclines, he as a salesman deteriorates, so does his American dream. As he gets older he begins to face a truth that he doesn't want to face, that his American dream has been lost. As he faces the truth his mental health slowly deteriorates, finally reaching the point where all lies of the future are stripped away, he has nothing left to hold onto. Faced with the unbearable truth, that he has nothing left, that his American dream has been stripped away, he loses himself, and he commits suicide, unable to face the reality of his life. Therein lies a moral, the loss of innocence, the death of the American dream, and finally, the loss of his life--or that of which it had become.

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Victoria Booth
08/20/2008 17:29

Death of a Salesman was a challenge that I looked forward to, only to find out it was more of a challenge than I originally thought. The only plays I have ever completely read, and enjoyed were written by Shakespeare or for drama club. It was, at first, hard to get into and enjoy the play. While reading it a second time I actually began to understand and enjoy it. I enjoyed the play so much that I cried at Willy Loman’s suicide, because I understood why he did it. It wasn’t for selfish reasons, but with the insurance money he was hoping Biff would be that star that he once was and achieve the greatness that Willy saw in Biff.
I understood why dementia happened to him. It was his way of dealing with a hard life that he didn’t have anybody to talk to. So, to survive he turned to his imaginings of his brother, Ben, and looked to the past to find out what went wrong to make things turn out the way they did. While chasing dreams can get you into trouble, dreams are the foundations of a salesman. As Charley said, “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.” (Requiem)
But, Biff didn’t know what his dreams where after he caught his father with another woman. So, dreamless he drifted to faming, herding, and thievery. I believe his thievery came about because his father encouraged Biff and Hap to steal from the construction site next door when they were younger.
Hap was a man desiring for his father’s to notice him. He was always in the shadow of his all-star brother. Therefore, he was always trying to prove himself. He proved himself through his independence by getting his own job, money, and apartment. I believe by getting drafted was Hap’s way of demonstrating that he is as good as, if not better than, his brother.
Linda Loman was a woman who admired and loved her husband, even though he treated her like the dirt he walked on. More than that, she protected him. Personally, she makes me made at her doormat behavior. She doesn’t mind getting walked on by her husband.
This play provides an inside look at the human psyche. It shows us how hard times can truly affect us. Overall, I enjoyed reading about the last two days of Willy Loman’s life. Death of a Salesman was a fascinating and, at first, confusing experience that turned out better than I expected.

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Zach W
08/21/2008 22:51

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a tragic tale of life and despair in modern America. Despite being written nearly 60 years ago, the play stills resonates today as a criticism on the American dream.
Willy Loman is the everyman salesman of the title; he has been working for years without any gain and is slowly losing his mind and will to live. Whether consciously or not, he is trying to kill himself. Willy tries to live vicariously through his sons, but neither has accomplished much. The elder, Biff, showed promise as a football star but failed math and ended up losing every job he has had when he stole from his employers. Biff appears subconsciously afraid of success and may be sabotaging himself by his seemingly pointless thefts. It is later revealed that Biff's emotional problems and arguments with his father come from his discovery that Willy had an affair while on a business trip. Willy's other son, Happy, has no motivation in life and just seems to want a good time. He ignores his family, particularly Willy, and is content to be mediocre.
Willy's main goal in life is to be loved and successful. However, he sees people around him, such as his boss and brother Ben, who stumbled on a diamond fortune, who don't have to work and succeed anyway. Willy is even released by the company he has served tirelessly for years when he can't work as well anymore. His devotion only leads to failure, while others seem to be blessed. He tries to make his sons into successes, but fails to give them goals or reasons to want success, and watches them fail as he has. He eventually kills himself in a car accident after confronting his family and realizing that greatness is not to be for the Loman family.
Willy's funeral shows what he has accomplished in his life: nothing. No one shows up. Willy does not have the "death of a salesman", a death where admirers come from everywhere to mourn his passing. And so it will be with most people. Death of a Salesman illustrates this truth about our world. The American dream is a lie, work and dedication don't pay off, the average man cannot win, and though many of us may dream like Willy Loman, few will ever do anything in this life.

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emily w
08/22/2008 09:25

When I started reading this play, it wasn’t something that held my attention. But in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is an aging man who has devoted his life to being a salesman. Unfortunately, as he looks back on life, He realizes the “American Dream”, he tried to achieve didn’t work out. Willy wanted to become a wealthy, successful salesman. But as he ages, his success and mental health deteriorates.
He also can be short tempered towards his wife and sons. The play goes between “present time” and Willy’s flashbacks, piecing together how he and his family ended up not fulfilling the much wanted “American Dream”
Because he feels he is a failure, he really wants his sons Biff and Happy to be successful, but they also have not had much success. Willy Loman’s life has been full of mistakes, lies and unrealistic dreams. Arthur Miller shows us the life of a family in the 1940’s trying and failing to achieve the “American Dream”. In the end, Willy was overwhelmed with his failures and mistakes, and decided to end his life, and by doing that, giving his sons a chance to become something Willy could never be, and have a life that he had. Biff and Happy are angered, saying things like there could have been another way, but for a desperate, worn out man, it was the only way he saw.

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Danielle Latour
08/24/2008 17:23

"Death of a Salesman" is a playwright of a man who has worked for years and is unappreciated. He is a aging old man that has been dealt many crushing blows. He loses his mind and ends up killing himself. It was kind of hard to get into the book because it was based for a older generation. I understood the themes and chracters but they lost me sometimes with him switching back and forth. His wife, Linda loman, is a under appreciated woman who has stood by her husbands side through thick and thin. I didnt understand why he cheated on her but i did understand why his son was angry at him.
His sons biff and happy, are men who cant get there life together. Biff wants to work outside and in the open and happy just wants to please his father. The whole family is under stress and pain. Willy was an endangerment to himself and others.This story is a tragedy from beginning to end.

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Danielle Latour
08/24/2008 17:58

Continued.....

When Willy was fired from his job, after working there for 30 something years, was an embarassment. His family had to lie to each other and themselves to convince each other that everything will be okay. I feel the worst for Linda loman because she had to put up with willy's mistreatment for so long.His son happy, wanted to please his father so bad that he stayed in the corporate world. His father wanted Biff and him to be salesman and become rich. when his sons didnt do that, he figured out another way to get them money. He figured that he would be better off dead so they can get his insurance. He also killed himself to try and convince everybody that he is known. He wante to reassure himself and everybody else that he didnt waste his life away. In the end, Willy was known for what he was, a good father.

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Katie Kessler
08/25/2008 07:55

Originally, I was not at all thrilled by Miller's play. My first impression was that Death of a Salesman was going to be long and drawn out. The lack of division between Willy Loman's dreams and reality were confusing in some places, making the play somewhat difficult and a chore to read. Somewhere throughout the play though, loose ends began to come together and make more sense. Willy Loman, a salesman in the 1940's who was once well known by his peers and customers, realizes that he is no longer familiar with his clients across the country; the idea is devastating to Willy. Willy's lack of confidence in his his work, along with his increasing age, leads to his deteriorating mental state. When his two sons return to visit, they notice his severe backsliding and become concerned for him. Miller uses Willy's relationships with his sons as something that remains, for the most part, consistent throughout the play until the end. Willy continues to go through the same up and down cycle of emotions with his sons. The various conflicts between Willy and the people around him, while everything seems to be crashing in, allow the reader to connect with him. Willy's wife, Linda, continually tries to offer him support and reassurance. As Willy begins to doubt his ability to succeed any longer as a salesman and financially support his family, she assures him that they'll manage. With the weakening mental state of Willy, his ability to cope with the struggle and hardship of making ends meet also begins to crumble. As a result, Willy kills himself in an effort to allow his sons to lead a life much different than his own. Several times throughout the play, Willy comments about having everyone know his name and face at some point, which seems to be a significant goal in his life. In the last few pages of Death of a Salesman, while at Willy's funeral, the question is asked by Linda, "But where are all the people he knew? Maybe they blame him." Linda's question reminds the reader of the source of Willy's pain. The question asked by Linda seems to imply the obvious failure of Willy as a salesman, also the failure at an attempt to be known by his clients. Miller's use of words and dialogue helps to further show the reader the extent of struggle for the Loman family to make ends meet, and the never ending battle of Willy Loman to please his family and succeed in life.

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Kim L
08/25/2008 09:13

When I first started reading Death of a Salesman I thought it was going to be rather peculiar, and hard to follow, but once I got into it, I was surprised to find it was a very pain filled story. Even though I'm one to highly believe in not letting status bring you down, society and people in general can be beyond harsh. Reading Willy Lomans breakdown was a perfect description of what pressure can do to you. Willy was a soft hearted person who watned nothing more than the best for his family. Even though he tried and tried to strive for them he could never reach his goal of making his family the best. This being because nobody seemed willing to help him through a rough time because they were to self consumed. It gave of a vibe of an "every man for himself" vibe, in which Willy was left out of because he was far from self centered. His sons contribute largely to his downfall and to the meaning of this story because of their differences. They didn't want the same things as their father and therefore it tore him apart because he wanted them to make the best out of their lives, not seeing that what he wanted for them was much different than what they wanted for themselves, especially Biff. The writer uses his dialogue tremedously to show Willy's feelings a fragility throughout his breakdown. He gives amazing detail of how fragile every word could be to Willy's downfall. Overall, the tragic ending made the play. It made the play seem more realistic and not so fairy tailish, making it easier to relate to real life.

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Janelle R.
08/25/2008 13:17

Death of a Salesman is about Willy Loman and his quest for the American Dream. He wants to be wealthy, well-liked, and successful. He is a dreamer though, and for the most part that's how he lives, through his dreams.He never accepts that any of his dreams are just not meant to be. In reality Willy is a truely lonely soul who looks at the past instead of facing the present. He's never satisfied with his life the way it is and for many years worked himself too hard. Willy was twisted up in the "wrong dreams" which resulted in him never fulfilling his life and never knowing who he was. Him living in his past also had its affect on his relationship with his son Biff. Willy was so caught up in trying to relive the days when Biff liked him and looked up to him that he never dealt with trying to fix their issue after Biff realised the man he looked up to was an adultorous fake. Instead he longed for the easy way out and the proper Death of a Salesman which would bring back his love and respect from others. That was just another dream of his that in the end never occured. Arthur Miller revealed the sorrowful side of life for a salesman as years progressed in those times, showing what lies beneath the man "riding on a smile and a shoeline".

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Linda C.
08/26/2008 09:07

My first thought when I saw this book was that I wasn't going to like it, but as I started reading I became increasingly interested. The story's main character, Willy, has two adult sons that haven't "lived up to his expectations". He starts to have a mental breakdown and begins to hallucinate. This story is all about the American Dream and the pursuit of happiness. It was sad to read at times because things just kept getting worse for the family. The story reminded me of my family a little bit because we may fight but we come together in the end.
Willy did have some unrealistic expectations for life, but I don't think he was wrong for that. Why not dream big? The only problem was that he didn't know how to just bow out gracefully. When he was fired from his job, I nearly cried. Then, he became stubborn and turned down the job from Charlie. It kind of makes this age-old question, do you follow your dream even when you're failing and near-starving or do you bow out and just find a job to survive?
Biff was the character I identified with the most because he could never be what his father wanted him to be. He just was not that guy. He froze up and freaked out everytime he had an opportunity. He had a rocky relationship with his dad, but he really tried to save it.
This story is mostly about the loss of dreams. I think that's one of the most heart-breaking things that can ever happen to you, especially if you've worked pretty much your whole entire life for it. I almost cried again at the end when Willy died because I really wanted to see his life get better. I really did not want it to end like that, but maybe it was better that way because it ended his pain.

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Hannah R.
08/26/2008 09:12

The title of Arthur Miller's play, "Death of a Salesman", makes it clear that at some point in the story a salesman will die. After reading this play, however, I realized that the death of Willy Loman, the salesman in the story, does not just occur whithin the last few pages with his physical death. The story displays a continuous process of Willy Loman slowly deteriorating and dying as a person because of his crushed dreams for himself and for Biff. In this play, Willy lives his life with the intense desire to be the number one man, as well as live through his son Biff and have him do the same. Willy looks at life at the wrong angle, though, for he believes that it should be a quick process to be successful. There are points in the story when Willy asks someone successful, like Bernard for instance, what the secret to success is. What Willy doesn't see, however, is that all it takes is hard work and dedication. In order to make himself happy he lives his life in a lie by pretending to be more than he really is, and letting Biff believe that he is better than everyone else, which actually does Biff more harm than good. This can be seen in Act 1 as Willy is looking into the past when his children Biff and Happy are in High School. In this scene Biff had stolen a football from the school locker room, and Willy laughs it off saying that the coach would "congratulate you on your initiative." A while later the neighbor's son, Bernard, enters and warns Willy that if Biff doesn't study for math the teacher will flunk him. Willy doesn't encourage Biff to study, which is what would have benefited him most, but instead says the following: "Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y'understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him." This puts the lie into Biff's head that he's better than Bernard and doesn't have to work for it, which in the end leaves Biff to believe many years later that he had wasted his whole life living a lie. In Act 2 Willy pushes Biff to make an appointment with Oliver, someone that Biff worked for 15 years eariler, and make a big business deal with him concerning sporting goods. Biff goes to Oliver, confident with the belief that Oliver would remember what a great salesman he had been. The truth is, however, that Biff never was a salesman for Oliver, he was a shipping clerk. Biff realizes this jarring truth when Oliver doesn't talk to Biff because he doesn't remember him. For all those years Willy had caused Biff to believe these lies and live his life through them. Happy began doing the same, for he often brags that he is the assistant buyer to a company, when really he is just one of the assistants to the assistant. Biff is the only one in the Loman family that discovers the truth about himself, and how throughout his entire life he was living in a false reality. In Act 2 Biff describes to Willy his failed encounter with Oliver and how he ran off with his fountain pen. For Biff this is an eye opening moment, for it allows him to see for the first time all of the lies that he had believed in. "...I ran down eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped, you hear me? And in the middle of that office building, do you hear this? I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw-the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don't want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am!..." When Biff says he saw the sky, it symbolizes seeing truth for the first time and becoming free from the false dream that he never even really wanted for himself in the first place. His whole life he was chasing this unreachable dream just to make his father happy. Biff desperately tries to explain this to his family, that "We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house!", but they continue to be in denial by saying, "We always told the truth!" when that in itself is a lie. Willy the salesman completes his death by deliberately crashing the car, thinking that this would get Biff 20,000 dollars to start a business. At the funeral Biff says, "He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong...he never knew who he was." No one else agrees with him, however, leaving Biff the only one who is free from the burden that they had been putting on themselves their whole lives. Biff is determined to leave and start his own life with his own dreams, but Happy refuses, saying "...Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It's the only dream you can have-to come out number one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him." Biff knows, however, that Happy has made the choice to live a lie, just lik

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Jackie Bywater
08/26/2008 16:07

I generally am not fond of reading plays; I would rather watch them than reading every movement and every word spoken that each character performs in the leaves of pages that are binded, know what I'm saying?

Regardless of my dislike of reading plays, I did find a little interest in this particular play. However it wasn't all that attention-grabbing as much as the other two novels required to be read.

I did feel that this play was a little bit difficult to follow through. It was hard to tell when Willy was having flashbacks of the past or when it was the present time of the play. It took some time to figure out the different time settings that took place in the play by reading it the certain passages over, but all in all, I fully understand the purpose of the play.

I think Arthur Miller was telling us that life isn't what it seems all the time. Willy Loman wanted the best for his two sons, Biff and Happy, especially for Biff. Willy, as a salesman, tried his best to provide his family economically. Willy went through struggles during his lifetime.
Sixty-three years of age, he realized that he was a failure in life and he didn't want his boys to end up like him.

This is why Willy always yelled at Biff, upset with Biff because of his future not being bright as it was supposed to be. If he hadn't flunked math, he would've graduated with the others and attended UVA, although his future didn't lead him in that direction. Biff, too, struggled to look for a well-paying job to cover the family's mortgages and insurance. I definitely agree with Kim L. that a lot of what Willy Loman was going under was pressure.

Once Willy realized the love Biff had for his father, he chose his fate--to die by car crash. Willy wanted Biff to have a good life and for that, the $20,000 out of Willy's life insurance was to be used for Biff--to make something out of his life.

I find this whole play depressing, however it does bring happiness and love coming from a beloved one.

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Jackie Rodriguez
08/26/2008 20:55

Death of a Salesman looks deep into the life of Willy Loman. Willy is an average working in the year nineteen fourty-nine. Miller portrays the typical ups and downs of any workers life: the financial struggles, the relationship with their spouse and children. Willy has issues in his past that make it difficult for him to stay positive in reaching his dream. He does not have a "normal" relationship with his sons and everyone soon begins to think he has gone insane. Shortly after Willy looses his job and has to depend on his sons Harold "Happy" and Biff. His wife Linda begins to think Willy is trying to kill himself because of all the flashbacks, accidents and how much he talks to himself. At the end of the play the family works out all their problems with each other and shortly after Willy dies. The relationships in this play struck me as odd. young adults (people in their thirties) were calling their elders (people in their eighties) kid. Biff and Happy were calling their father scout and their mother pal. If I tried calling my mother pal and my father scout i would get a good wooping or grounded for a while. This was not the best play I have ever read but it was not worst either. It was in between, not completely facinating but also not overly boring. This play taught me that I can not always get everything that I want and wish for. But I can reach all my goals if I set my heart and mind to it, if I make reasonale plans, if I always try my best and give two hundred percent the effert.

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08/27/2008 12:25

At first the Death of Salesman, seem to me to be boring, but as I continued to read I found the deeper meaning to the book as Arthur Miller reveals to his readers how the impact of time, and age can not foretell the future. This play moved me and opened my eyes to what I want to do in life and not what my parents want me to be. Willy Lowman was an average man, a hardworking salesman providing for his family. He always discusses with his family about "The American Dream" and all the ways you can make easy money and gain wealth. He has been working for The Wagner’s for 25 years. But, when asked to get a raise and stay closer to home, he is denied and in return, fired. His wife, Linda comforts him and is always defending him when Biff and Willy get to arguing. Willy and his son Biff have a confusing relationship. They always reminisce about how he flunked math and why he didn't make anything better of himself like his friend Ben. Biff is forever trying to explain his life to his dad. When he, himself is clueless as to what he wants to do, until the day he went to see Bill Oliver about a job. When he recognized that Oliver didn't remember him, he left and as he was leaving he realized that he doesn't want to be a salesman. He wanted to follow his destiny and not to relive his father's life. When Biff confronts Willy about it, instead of shutting him out, Willy listens. Biff pours his life into Willy's head and made it clear to him that he doesn't want to be like him. It is then that Willy realizes that he is not wanted and kills himself.

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Lauren A.
08/27/2008 12:54

Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman explores the life and relationships of Willy Loman, an aging traveling salesman whose life has not ended up quite as he would have liked. Each character plays a significant role in the unraveling of Willy's life and current psychological state to the reader (or audience). Linda, Willy's adoring wife, is a constant throughout the story. Despite the fact that Willy has not been the best husband, having been unfaithful to her (although it is unknown whether or not Linda ever discovers this fact), Linda stands by her husband through all of their troubles. Even as his mental health deteriorates, she takes care of him and demands that her sons do the same. Ben is Willy's brother who at this point exists only in Willy's memories. Ben haunts Willy, reminding him of the offer in Alaska that he refused, a choice he has regretted for much of his life. Ben represents what Willy aspired to become; successful, wealthy, and satisfied with life. Happy, Willy's younger son, lies about his job to make his father think he is more successful than he really is. Out of the two sons, Happy is the one who wants to please his father and is most susceptible to following the unattainable "American Dream." He never questions his father's dreams and is therefore on the same path, and at the mercy of his same fate. Charley and his son Bernard serve as foils to Willy and his sons. Although Willy remarks that Charley is not well-liked and criticizes Bernard as a child for being a nerdy bookworm, Charley and Bernard both become successful individuals. As opposed to Willy, Charley is not consumed by hopeless dreams and is instead a rational businessman. He understands what it takes to be successful, while Willy struggles to hold on to the past-when he thinks he had friends and clients that admired him. In fact, the tables are turned when Willy continually goes to Charley for money loans, but is too proud to accept a job from him. The comparison between Biff and Bernard is similar. In their high school years, Biff was a popular football star and Bernard did Biff's homework. But as adults, Biff struggles to get by and Bernard is a lawyer with great prospects. However, it is the relationship between Willy and his son Biff that is the most detailed in the novel, and is perhaps the most interesting. Willy adores Biff and has high hopes for him as a teenager, but when he flunks math much of these hopes, in reality, are demolished. After Biff discovers Willy's affair, Willy's facade of a life and career is destroyed in Biff's eyes. Everything Willy has pushed Biff towards is worthless to Biff, and he travels down a path of self-discovery instead. As Willy starts to realize later in his life that he has failed to achieve the American Dream, he instead tries to live vicariously through his son. All of his efforts are to help Biff achieve this dream, but Biff understands that it is unrealistic and does not want to end up like his father. He attempts to persuade his father to burn his dreams before something terrible happens, but in vain. Willy kills himself, hoping that his insurance will help his family, all for the sake of his dreams for Biff. Although it was too late for Willy to face reality, it was not too late for his son. Ironically, we learn through a conversation with Ben that the insurance policy does not cover suicide, so Willy's actions do not help his family at all.

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Jenny V.
08/27/2008 16:32

Willy Loman was a salesman who lived his long, and tangled life hunting for his dream of success, that never approached him in the least. In Miller’s playwright, “Death of a Salesman,” he runs through this aging man’s life, picking out bits and pieces of importance. Willy’s life had never been the way he had ever wanted it to be- his only sons fail and any real attempt to move on and bewilder themselves with a real life, he never had the real chance to be home and experience life as a true father, and he spent his life comparing and contrasting his life to other fellow salesmen. Nothing was ever good enough for this man, because in his dilated mind, there was always something better that could be done with himself. He lived his long life, constantly keeping that in mind until he saw his life as a big illusion. He began to see things only if he wanted to see him, and he slowly started to push away the people that loved him the most. His search for his dream just plainly blinded him towards them, and any advice anyone else would give him.
He looked for advice, but only disregarded them when he needed to put the actions into play. He saw one thing for himself-success-and he had his mind set as to how he would embrace it. Charley’s job offer was declined because that simply was not how Willy wanted to achieve his success. He wanted to win his goal by doing what he had been doing his whole life- selling.
This only brought himself to his misery, unfortunately. He pretty much completely left his family in the dust in this lifelong quest. It seemed that the only thing he had left to do was to die.
I believe that the jungle that was brought up occasionally was an equivalent to some sort of utopia, or heaven. I say this because it is the last thing he thinks of before commiting suicide. Maybe he believed that if he were to die, he could escape to find this jungle that he created inside his mind, and dream of his success there- because of course that is what Willy Loman had been doing his whole life- dream.

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08/27/2008 22:46

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman was a very depressing book. When I first started reading it, I didn't know if I was going to understand at all. I found it, in a way, hard to comprehend since it kept going from present, to Willy having flashbacks, and then back to present. Also, the people just appearing from Willy's past made it difficult to know what time period it was.

Willy Loman was a salesman who lived his life through dreams and lies. He wanted what was best for his family, and he wanted his two sons, Happy and Biff, to be successful; he was especially hard on Biff, though. When Biff was a teenager, he was going down the path to being a hot shot football player, but when he flunked math, that path ended. In the second act, Willy blames Biff for failing math, and says that if he would have passed that class, he could have been successful. Willy wasn't successful, and when he realized he was a failure, he tried living his life and dream through Biff. He always had flashbacks of his past when he had a loving relationship with Biff. Now, in the present, he is always yelling at Biff when he fails, and disapproves when Biff tries to go down different paths to see what he wants to do. Willy fails to listen when Biff tries to explain that he isn't meant to be a salesman. One day when Biff was rejected by a salesman, Oliver, he realized he wasn't doing what he wanted; it was what his father wanted. He began to think that he should be doing what he wants to do, and he should not be living someone else's dream. Willy killed himself in a car accident hoping that the 20,000 dollars of his life insurance would be of good help to what Biff wanted to do with his life. Unfortunately, the insurance money was no help for the family since it didn't cover suicide.

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Alexa C
08/28/2008 07:52

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is about Willy Loman, an elderly salesman who has been down in his luck almost all of his life. When he was young, he had dreams about being a successful salesman and being able to sit at home in his slippers and still make a living. But at 60, he gets fired from his salesman job and fights to keep his sanity on top of that. In the end, he kills himself so that his insurance money can cover all his debts and help his family go on with their lives.
I thought it was interesting how his life seemed to be clearer when he was thinking about his past. When he was younger, he was more sure about his future. He was certain that his business would be thriving and that his son, Biff, would be a successful football player. When Biff flunks math and goes to see Willy while he’s on business, he finds that his dad has been having an affair. Because of the affair, Willy and Biff have trouble getting along and Biff leaves to go to the West. That seems to be when Willy’s life starts to go downhill.
It was intriguing when Willy started “talking” to his dead brother Ben about a “proposition.” The “proposition” is that he could commit suicide and give is family twenty thousand dollars in insurance money. What was interesting was that this part seemed so clear to Willy. His mind wasn’t befuddled and he wasn’t rambling on about random things. He was more sure of what to do when he was in the past or “talking” with people who were in his past. And when he does decide to commit suicide, he just does it and seems so sure of himself for one last time.

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Evin E.
08/28/2008 10:00

Arthur Miller, in his classic drama, Death of a Salesman, personifies the typical unappreciated hard working American. Willy Loman, in my opinion, is quite the arrogant protagonist boasting about his wonderfull life and popularity to his children and others when on the contrary his old age has left him hopeless and desperate to escape the life he's living. The play is set in a typical small surburban neighborhood with the ageing traveling salesman, Willy, and his two sons, Billy and Happy. Billy, who travels frequently, fights with Willy when he is home. He appears to be a prodigal son archtype in the play. Linda, Willy's wife, is a perfect faithful companion archtype with her unwavering love and dedication to her husband, regardless of the choices he makes. The book's setting and conflicts are those of real people connecting to the "Average Joe" of America. I felt a major theme of the book was to consider the consequences of your actions. For instance, a pivitol moment in the play is when Billy travels to Boston to visit his father for advice. When he arrives there, he catches his father in an affair. Seeing his father's infidelity is, in my opinion, cause for many of the hard feelings they have towards eachother. Though suicide, affairs, and the American Dream may make the play sound good to read I thought it was very boring. Reading about a mans sob ordinary life was quite the Foil to my adventurous vacation.(laffs)

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Dane Chapman
08/29/2008 07:24

Death of a salesman was a very interesting book to read simply because of how it is written. The script-like layout of the book let you imagine the movements and small details of the book to make it a different experience for everyone who reads it. When I first started reading, I thought this was going to be a boring book because of the lack of detail and action. I was very wrong, soon I came to realize that the book was more interesting than many others because of the way you got to read it. The reader could use just a little bit of his or her imagination to make this an interesting story. I also like this story because it shows an excellent example of the hardships that faced many American families during the great depression. Willy was the perfect example of a man pushed to his limits… and then some. Willy’s hallucinations were the product of stress of the times and through Biff’s decisions about his life, but it was the hallucinations that gave him the desire to kill himself. Why you might ask. He did what anybody would have done. He compared himself to somebody else. He compared himself to his brother, and he did this simply because it is human nature to observe one’s surroundings. I know these observations to be the sole reason of self-hate and envy. For example, if one sees his neighbor with a brand new Ford Mustang when he only has a mini-van, he will want what his neighbor has and will cause unnecessary stress, envy. If one sees that their neighbor is more sexually desirable, he will notice that he is inadequate compared to his neighbor, which will cause him to hate how he looks, self hate. Now that I have shown you this detailed analysis of the book, I will hope you can trust me when I say I’ve read it.

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Lenny V.
08/29/2008 23:35

The play "Death of a Salesman" shows the life and struggles to success of an average worker, Willy Loman, a sixty-year-old salesman in the America of the 1940’s. Willy, who has always believed in success acquired the easy way, now faces his eminent failure in obtaining so and pushes his sons, Biff and Happy, into the same life he pursued to fulfill his hope that they might succeed where he failed; a hope that was lost the moment his sons realized that Willy wasn’t much of the hero they thought; the moment they learned about his mistress certainly changed the course of this story and destroyed any possible intentions his kids might have had in fulfilling Willy’s desires. In this play, the author, Arthur Miller, uses “flashbacks” to travel back and forward throughout the story, maybe to compare the promising beginning of Willy’s career to the devastating end of it, maybe to highlight the fact that he mistaken happiness with success, maybe to empathize the motives of the dramatic change of behavior his kid had and the effect this had on their lives or better yet, a mix of all choices. “Death of a Salesman” is certainly a play about the misconception of happiness with success and the outcome of the incapacity to realize the difference before is too late. The ending of the play, where Willy gave up his life to leave Biff his insurance money so he could accomplish what he never could, shows the guilt hidden behind his sacrifice and lets us see the internal suffering that he felt knowing that it was his fault that his kids had lost their interest in success the moment they realized where the search for it had taken HIM.

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Evan Ayres
08/30/2008 13:19

The concept of "Death of a Salesman" does not sound very interesting at first glance, but once you begin reading it, the plot exposes the overall meaning of the play, which turns out to be very intriguing. Willy, a salesman in his 60's is set with living "the life of a salesman". However, he learns that as he gets older, he cannot seperate what he dreams of, and what is truly important and acheivable. Willy begins to loose the trust of his sons, and his patience with his wife begins to shorten. Willy allows himself to believe he is still sucessful, thus clouding the grief he is causing within his family. He feels as though his son Biff could have a much better life for himself, but constantly finds it to be an uphill battle. When he realizes that despite his lack of sucess, his son still loves him. With that in mind, WIlly takes his own life, with the hope to leave insurance money behind to benifet his family, and to possibly prevent any future grief.

I found this play to be somewhat depressing, and sometimes hard to follow. However, I think that Arthur Miller is trying to show us that "the American Dream" is not always acheivable, but that doesnt mean that a dream short of it cant be just as fufilling.

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Matthew G.
08/30/2008 16:27

Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, is about a salesman, Willy, his wife Linda, and his two sons Biff and Happy. Willy has had the American dream in his mind his entire life. Aiming to become a rich and successful salesman, Willy pushes his sons to do well in life. After having aged over the years Willy begins to go insame, and the visit form his two unsuccessful sons doesn't help. During the play, Willy experienced flashbacks of when Biff and Happy were kids. These flashbacks interweave with the storyline. Soon upon his sons' arrival Willy again attempts to push his American dream into their hearts. This instead causes a backfire of arguments and disputes.
I believe that the theme that Arthur Miller was trying to convey in this play, was that people need to see themself as who they really are; and though a dream can help lead a person into the direction of success, it should not mislead a person into self denial. Death of a Salesman is a perfect examination of that.
In the beginning of the play, Miller shows Willy's easy temper, during a conversation with his wife, Linda. The part of the conversation which upsets Willy the most, is when their focus turns to their thirty-four year old. unsuccessful son, Biff. This conversation is the first time in the play that Willy reveals that his dream of success isn't just invested in himself, but his two sons aswell. Willy blinded himself with the notion that he and his sons had more potential than they ded by investing in his sons' dreams, as well as his own. Throughout the play, Willy's flashbacks reveal more and more of how strongly he wanted his sons to succeed, and how he sabotaged his relationship with Biff (when he was caught cheating on his wife).
At the end of the play, Biff decided that he had had enough of his father, preaching of a dream he knew he would not reach. They argued about who they were in this world; one man blinded and fooled by his dreams, into seeing himself as a truly important man; the other seeing himself as what he really was . . . just a man. On page 102, Arthur Miller reveals these views with the characters' fury:
"Biff: Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!
Willy [turning on him now in an uncontrolled outburst]:I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!"
Unable to accept the realization that his dream had failed, Willy connited suecide the night of the argument, by causing a car accident. In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller showed how dreams can give hope, as well as false hope.

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Ada VT
08/30/2008 19:09

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is the story of the slow downfall of a flawed man. Willy Loman is not a classic tragic character in the Aristotelian sense. Aristotle defined a tragic protagonist as an individual who starts out “renowned and prosperous” and loses this status by performing a sinful act ignorant of the fact that it is sinful (Oedipus, who accidentally killed his father and slept with his mother, would be a perfect example). Willy Loman is a man who never gains prosperity and who loses his godlike status in the eyes of his oldest son when he is caught in a clearly willful act of adultery.
Willy’s pathetic existence definitely evokes pity in the audience. For example, after having dedicated his life to selling for Howard Wagner’s company and consequently exhausting himself, in body and mind, he begs his boss to let him have a nice quiet desk job. The boss, however, only listens to him long enough to tell him that he is fired because he is no longer efficient. It is also disturbing and sad to read the parts in which Willy is haunted by past memories. These phantoms that he has conversations with are the dredges of his deep regrets for never achieving the success (first for himself and then for his sons) that he yearns for and eventually kills himself over.
This play is without a doubt depressing, but does it have the same impact as those tragedies of unflawed characters-- Even after seeing Loman let his sons down and treat his wife so unfairly with only slight remorse? Even if his fall from “prosperity” is barely a fall at all? Is it possible that this play is more moving than the classic tragedy simply because one can relate to the everyday flawed man more than the perfect Greek character?
One could argue that the truly tragic character in this play is Linda, Willy’s wife, whose blind devotion never wavers even when he is quite mean to her and who completely breaks in spirit after he commits suicide troubled by the question of why he would do this now. Regardless, Arthur Miller challenged the normal structure of tragedy when he wrote this piece, and I would say he succeeded in many ways.


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08/31/2008 11:32

The Death of a Salesmen, by Arthur Miller, is a story that shows how strong the american dream, the desire to be succesful, is. In the play, Miller portrays this idea through the life of Willy Loman, an aging salesmen living in the 1940's New England.Willy has always wanted to be a rich and well known buisnessman. However, unfortunate circumstances hurt his dreams. After getting fired by his long time employer of thirty some years, Willy begins to lose his rationalty. However, the American dream that he has wanted for so long, is still on his mind. He now wants more than anything to see his sons Happy and Biff be succesful and fulfill his dreams. This pressure that willy has put on his sons and also himself causes Willy and his family to begin to believe they live in a life that is not as it really seems. Happy and Biff believe they have positions that are not really theirs or jobs that they never really had. When Biff realizes that he is not living the life he really wants, he tries to convince his father of the same. When Willy realizes what he has done to almost ruin his sons lives, he wants to fix it in hopes that they will not make the same life that he himself has made. So when Willy kills himself in hopes that the insurance money will help his sons, he is showing how determined he was to at least have his sons live the American Dream.

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Julia Roketenetz
08/31/2008 11:36

Arthur Miller wrote a playwright expressing the uphill battle of Willy Loman trying to reach his American dream. Willy in his early sixties was becoming severely depressed with his lack of being known in the world; then the fact that his sons were not making names of themselves either. He tried to take his life many times before he actually succeeded in the end. He seemed always to believe in the cliché line “grass is always greener on the other side,” but he never actually reached the other side, which he saw as the American dream.
He never properly raised his sons since he was a salesman and always out of town on business trips. He expressed to a flashback with his older brother, he needed help with his sons. Since his father was never there to raise him, he in turn didn’t know how to raise his own. On top of all of the other mounting disappoints he believed he failed his sons. He constantly fed Biffs ego, and believed he was set to do magnificent things, until his son failed and wasn’t allowed to graduate. Biff however, took a trip up to Boston to see his dad with the news in hopes that he could change it. While there in his dads room he comes to realize a woman and the fact that he is having an affair. Neither men ever recover from this. One is built up with hate, while the other by sadness and humiliation. Relief came to Willy Loman at the end though, when he finally saw that Biff loved him along.

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Arada Michaels
08/31/2008 12:48

When I read the beginning of the book, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, I wasn't so sure of what to make of the play but once I read into the ending of the first Act, it became interesting. The story about a man who thought being liked and well-known would leads to a great life and the dreadful thoughts about how his sons were doing in their own lives seemed to be a simple and realistic idea about the world and yet got me hooked all the same. Throughout the book, I imagined the characters and all of the emotions that would be flowing as if it was happening at that very moment.

Although the play can be depressing at times, Arthur Miller shows how hard life really is and even though a dream can fail, another can just as easily fill its place. Even though Willy's dream was shattered, it does not mean that his sons' dreams would end the same as their father's.

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08/31/2008 19:40

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman was a very tedious read. At first glance, it seems to be just another story about a man who lacks the ability to cope with life and it’s obstacles. Willy Loman is a salesman, who works all of his life to achieve what he perceives as perfection. He has a loyal, caring wife and two sons, Biff and Happy Loman. In the beginning, the author depicts the family as what we would call “average.” Everything about the family seems surreal and “Stepford” – almost inhuman. However, as the book proceeds, the reader begins to find that the image previously given is merely a charade. The family seems to have immersed itself in a labyrinth of self-deception. Willy refuses to accept Biff’s failures in life, and deludes himself with the idea that he will one day be successful. The family has lied amongst each other for so long, they’ve forgotten the truth entirely; the denial runs so deep that not one of the members of the family questions their fabrications. The book continues to reveal scandalous and pathetic truths about the family, such as Biff’s thieving and Willy’s adultery. Whereas Willy seemed plastic in the beginning, his affinity toward suicidal behavior gave the character depth, and made him seem more human. When Biff finally becomes fed up with the continuous stream of lies, he confronts his father, and finally uncovers the long-buried truth. After which Willy commits suicide. His suicide was brought on by the final disclosure of his long train of fallacies, along with a sense of atonement for all he had done. By taking his life, he left a twenty thousand dollar life insurance policy to his wife and children, allowing them to pay off any bills they needed. The irony in his death is revealed in the final act, when Linda speaks to his grave, and tells him that the mortgage and other bills were already paid off. In the sense, they were finally free.

This play is a satire of what we refer to as the “American Dream.” Willy, like many Americans of the time, sought acceptance and admiration amongst his peers in order to be successful. He, above all else, longed for what society projected as the “perfect life.” The play successfully mocks the institutions of marriage, parenthood, and prosperity. Through an affair, the author ridicules the lack of sacredness in contemporary marriage. Although he attempted to make his children successful, one became a womanizer and the other refused to involve himself in the business. While he is supposedly living the “American Dream,” he is so engrossed in financial debt that he ultimately kills himself in order to pay off some of the family’s bills. Willy was an average man, with an average family, and an average job. After being consumed by the idea of the “American Dream,” he drives himself to insanity by trying to attain the one thing unattainable to us as people – perfection. Arthur Miller uses this travesty to portray what our goals in life have been distorted into. By showing a man who was corrupted with honest intentions, Miller thoroughly illustrates the folly of the search for perfection, in that the only thing attainable by it is insanity. Granted, who is to say it was sane to look for in the first place.

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Nicole G
08/31/2008 20:28

In this play by Arthur Miller the protagonist Willy Loman is an old salesman who’s dream of becoming rich and successful did not quite turn out the way he had planned. During the play Willy begins to have flashbacks of his two sons Happy and Biff. While his sons are home to visit Willy does nothing but push them to be successful esp. towards his son Biff. Biff is thirty four yrs old and has yet to settle down and do something with his life. All Willy wants is for his sons to have the success that he never had. Which at the end of the play leads him to suicide so that his son could have his 20,000 dollar insurance policy.

The play Death of Salesman turned out to be quite confusing to me. I could sometimes never tell when Willy was having his flash backs. I personally did not like the play that much and I found it hard to stay focused on.

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09/01/2008 05:35

In my opinion, this play reflects the life of an ageing failure romantic salesman, who has profound love for business, and for whom human relations are more significant than commercial ones.

I believe that the basic idea of the work is the conflict which is apparently allocated the relevant problem of fathers and children of 1949's literature. So, I think that the conflict of the main character with his son, in reaching its acme, gives the drama of the play urgency and tenseness, but at the same time, raises a sense of condole for both opponents.

Arthur Miller uses the following language devices in order to convey his purpose: tone (friendly tone: "WILLY: Wonderful coffee... LINDA: Can I make you some eggs?", "LINDA: ...I can't get over the shaving lotion un this house! WILLY (smiling): Mmm..."; subdued tone: "WILLY (after a pause): I'm - I'm overjoyed to see how you made the grade, Bernard, overjoyed...", "WILLY (desperately): You were his friend, his boyhood friend. There's something I don't understand about it..."), diction (colloquial diction: "pal", "coulda", "yeah", "kinda") and others.

Reading the book Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller did not make the proper impression on me, because I think that the characterization of the shocking family, which had been lost or I would rather say jammed between the real and imaginary worlds, is nothing but a utopia, which had been created by the father of the family, Willy Loman, who had combined two incompatible things: business and worthless optimism.

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Remington Roth
09/01/2008 07:38

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is written with intricate style. The plot is unfolded through the memories of Willy Loman in the form of hallucinations. The reader must distinguish between the characters that are actually in a certain scene and the characters that are speaking to Willy. At later stages in the play, Miller often elaborated on events that had subsequently been mentioned. The new information shifted the dialogue of the actors. Where one statement initially held no gravity, it could gain substance with further developments. The play is centered upon the relationship between Willy and his son Biff. In act 1, Biff refers to his father as a 'fake'. It is not until act 2 that it is revealed as to why Biff made this accusation. Biff challenges the beliefs of his father consistently in the play. Willy was a salesman and desired Biff to follow his trade. Through this separation, Willy fell under the notion that his son did not love him. The world outside of offices and business suits appealed to both Willy and Biff, yet only Biff embraced it. Willy argued with Biff to take up a trade so as to improve his material standing. From his perspective, an occupation as a carpenter or a farmer could not suffice for his son. Biff made attempts to please his father by searching for a job in sales and failed. Willy's hallucinations told him it was his fault. Only when Biff finally broke through his stubbornness and addressed his father with love did Willy truly understand. This did not bring contentment. Although Willy and his beloved son were finally on good terms, he takes his own life as the title of the play suggests. The salesman dies. The plight of the Loman family is arranged to identify that pressures from external figures cannot be allowed to steer the course of one’s life. Biff shows that one must do what they enjoy, despite whatever the common path might be.

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Brian Brewington
09/01/2008 12:58

Death of a Salesman appealed to my since of reading greatly because i love reading plays. The play itself i think was very informative of what each character thought and felt.As the play progresses from just an old salesman in his home the characters develop as well. The play has flashbacks which are also told as they were illustrated on stage from stage position to musicality showing that it was indeed just that a play. The main character Willy Loman is revoled around by the many other cast members such as his family. As Willy begins to explore his life and figure out what went wrong he also tells of how the other cahracters developed due to his choices. His sons Biff and Happy both depict different reactions to the way their father raised them and worked his life. Willy always encouragd the boys and said they would amount to great things, but Biff recieved more attention than happy because he was the football player. It was apparent that Happy wanted the same attention throughout the play when he would say "Im loosing weight dad did ya notice" which though he isn't the richest hes still pushed through to make a decent living so as to impress his father. Biff on the other hand failed to achieve his dreams because he focused to much on sports and not his academices which is partly because his dad didn't make him. He always asked bernard to give his son the answers and it came back to bite them in the butt. When Biff fails his class he tells his mom who is so upset over the whole matter and then proceeds to find his dad and tell him in Boston but when he arrives there finds hes cheating on his wife. This might be one of the reasons Biff hasn't been able to settle down because hes afraid of a commitment or at least breaking it anyway, unlike Happy who sleeps with whoever he can get his hands on.

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Elizabeth Davis
09/02/2008 17:30

The Death of a Salesmen, just did not appeal to me because of it being a play in all. I just could not get in to it without reading it out loud and trying to picture everything since it is a play in all. But what I did understand from reading this play was that Willy was just like some other parents that are out there today. For example, he pushed the dreams that he wanted on his two sons Happy and Biff. Some would probably say that he wanted what most dads want for their sons to play sports. As you know not every guy is made to play football, which can be dissapointing and shameful to some fathers. I think that Willy just wants the American dream. The American Dream was not able to come possible because of the relationship that he had with his sons. Willy's hallucinations made realize/recognize that he pushed he sons away. It may be cliche, but you don't get a job or career just for the money you should do it for the love of it, because at the end day, money or whatever feeling it gives you is not going to give you the pleasure that seek and yearn for. So I think that you must do what you want and not what everyone else even if your dad was like Willy you must go after your own dreams.

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Stephanie Smith
09/04/2008 18:08

To me, Death of a Salesman was more a less a novel about a father that lived, literally, to provide for his family until he was no longer able to. Willy always tried to the best of his ability to bring money home. When he was fired, he felt like he could no longer face his family because of his shame. I think Arthur Miller killed Willy at the end of the play as way to show that Willy gave up all he ever had to his family.
When he was a novice at his job as a salesman, he was praised by the head of the company and always expected to climb the career ladder like so many other men in his type of business. He then raised his sons to believe they would become great, just as he thought he would. When his eldest son, Biff, was unable to graduate and play football in college, Willy felt himself a failure. From that moment on, he blamed himself for every mistake that went on in his and his sons' life.
As he reaches old age, he begins to suffer from hallucinations of memories that haunt him. I noticed while reading that most of these memories were those that he kept telling himself would have made him more successful than he was, either as a father and/or as a provider. For instance, many of the hallucinations involved his brother, Ben, who frequently urged him to move to Alaska where he was promised to become rich. Willy constantly reminds himself that if he would have, maybe he and his family would have been better off in life. Many more of his hallucinations were memories about how Biff almost made something of himself. Willy also blames himself for not urging Biff to become better and pursue his diploma. Though Willy's family truly loved him, he refused to believe so because of all the pain he inflicted upon them.

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Mrs. Foley & Mrs. Brandt
09/08/2008 08:32

NO OTHER INITIAL RESPONSES ACCEPTED

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