Uploaded by TESL1-0619 Amni Batrisyia Binti Rasidi

Death of a Salesman; Reader Response

Reader Responses; Death of a Salesman
In this response, the play that I choose to write on is from the Great American Drama by
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman. The analysis will focus on a theme and moral dimension to
uncover the conflicts between ethical dream (American dream) and toxic positivity (morality
alienation). From my perspective, writing in the tradition of 20th century realism, the author gives
his social drama the dimensions of tragedy and this is an essential element of his play’s design
and intent.
One of the major themes within the play is the American Dream which the author criticizes
the American materialism, and the self-delusion that people were afflicted with. This is essentially
provided through the character of Willy Loman, whose failure was mainly because of his illusion
and pursuit of perfection. Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the
American Dream—that a “well liked” and “personally attractive” man in business will indubitably
and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. The major problem
that I observed is that Willy seems to suffer from and makes him out of context in his life is his
commitment to the idea that one can succeed in business by imposing his personal perspective
without heeding other concerns. He puts this clearly as he says: “The man who makes an
appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets
ahead” (Miller, 1949, 1.3.646-648). In other words, Willy still clings to the model of the traditional
frontier salesman whose idea of success relied on leaving the house for a long time and coming
back with a large amount of money, “riding on a smile and a shoeshine” (Requiem 38).
From Willy Loman’s character development, there are some moral lessons that I can
derive. One of the characteristics of Willy Loman is confident. As a person who works in the
business world, optimism is one thing that helps him to reach the target, whereas his target is off
course, to gain money and respect. For example, Willy strongly declares that he would go to
Hartford and make money. Remembering that he feels ignored there, I see his optimism is too
much if it compared with his last works where he did not make any money and the way he feels
about people in Hartford, in other words, he is too optimist that he does not prepare himself toward
failure, this same fault also happens when he fully supports Biff to meet Bill Oliver to borrow some
money. The way Willy encourages Biff how to say the right words to Bill Oliver is one thing that
reveals his optimism toward his son, he expects the best for Biff. This attitude reveals the positive
side of his optimistic mind, he has the ability to inspire other people to get into business, but the
negative side, and he puts his optimism beyond the unpredictable things where anything can
happen. By saying “I think your troubles are over” (Miller, 1949, 1.8.891-822), shows that he
always has a positive thinking that Biff is going to make the deal even though Biff has not met Bill
Oliver yet.
Living in the contemporary society with intensified competition, it is better for everybody
to know ourselves, to keep pace with the rapid-developing society, pursuing what we really need,
dedicated to our goals, rather perplexed with the so-called success. Hence, through analyzing
Willy’s death, I could discover that his life revealed some social problems behind personal and
family tragedy in current society, arousing our reflection on ethical and moral standards in a
money-oriented society. And the most important thing is to know ourselves.
Death Of A Salesman: The Tragic Figure Willy Loman. (2020). Journal of Xidian University, 14(5).
Death of a Salesman. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/death-of-asalesman/about-death-of-a-salesman
Mambrol, N. (2020, July 30). Analysis of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Retrieved from
Miller, A. H. (1949). Death of a salesman. Royal National Institute for the Blind.