Death of a Salesman - Values and Attitudes of the Author
Uploaded by Gotskillz on Feb 21, 2005
Values and attitudes that the author supports are often reflected in their writing, whether it be in the themes that are involved in the story, or the way it begins and ends. The author adopts a particular point of view and uses that point of view throughout the story to influence and impact readers and viewers. This is most often done through effective use of characterisation. Arthur Miller, in his play ‘Death of a Salesman’ uses his main character, Willy Loman, to heighten the audience to the nature of modern life and “set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the forces of life and has no sense of values which will lead him to that kind of grip”.
Willy Loman is 63 years old, a travelling salesman for a New York firm for the past 36 years, in the last stages of exhaustion and headed for suicide. He has his sights set on success. To Willy, success means two things: being rich, and being popular, neither of which he has or is ever likely to attain. We are intended to blame Willy for having all the wrong dreams, or rather, for holding onto those dreams long after they cease to correspond with reality. This is shown in the requiem, when at his father’s funeral, Biff states, “He had the wrong dreams, all wrong.” Biff knows that Willy should have stuck to doing things with his hands, instead of sticking to sales, where he faltered. This is backed up by Biff’s comment to Charley: “… there’s more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made” to which comes his reply, “Yeah. He was a happy man with a batch of cement.” Willy’s death is seen as the death of a dream.
Willy has chosen to imitate the salesman side of his father, a choice that was influenced greatly by his meeting of Dave Singleman, who comes to represent for Willy the father he never knew, as well as a role model in life, as is shown by Willy announcing to Howard: “… and without even leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realised selling was the greatest career a man could ever want.”
As Willy grows older, he has trouble distinguishing between the past and present - between...