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Willy Lowman’s Misguided Dream in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesmen is a bittersweet play about the Loman family and

their life with a salesman as a father. Most of the play takes place in the Loman home and

revolves around a series of conversations and flashbacks from Willy‘s past. Through these

flashbacks, we find out that Willy has had an affair, has a strained relationship with this eldest

son, and lies to his entire family about how he is doing at work. Miller paints a fascinating

picture of how the wrong ideas to succeed in the business world have not only kept Willy from

becoming a great salesman but also led to the failure of his family‘s life. This failure includes

Biff wandering from job to job and Hap talking up his role at his job. The aging traveling

salesman, Willy Loman, has the wrong perception of what it takes to be successful in the

business world causing lies, infidelity, and disconnection.

Miller‘s perception that the typical American salesman, given the opportunity, would

cheat and lie is a valid idea. In the middle of Act One, Willy begins remembering of a time he

spent with a character only known as ―The Woman.‖ During part of the conversation, Willy

expresses that he plans to see this woman again when he says, ―Well, I‘ll see you the next time

I‘m in Boston,‖ The Woman responds, ―I‘ll put you right through to the buyers‖ (Miller 1.787-

788). These lines make it appear that he is only with the woman to help further this career, which

has long been suffering. By this I mean, the response of the woman leads the reader to the

thought that Willy only cheated on his wife to help get in the door with buyers and not because

he was unhappy in his marriage. Later on, we find that in addition to trying to get a…

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…rt. Willy‘s last

best idea to make it is to sacrifice his life so that his family would finally be a success. Years

and years of traveling and ill-conceived ideas of being successful take its toll on the life of Willy

Loman and his family. 21

Works Cited

Eisinger, Chester E. ―Critical Readings: Focus on Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman: The

Wrong Dreams.‖ Critical Insights: Death of a Salesman (2010): 93-105. Literary

Reference Center. EBSCO Web. 4 Nov. 2010.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Literature: Craft

Fallacies and Distortions in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

A logical fallacy can be defined as a “flawed argument” (Kirszner and Mandell 84). It can be considered, “ a writer who inadvertently uses logical fallacies is not thinking clearly or logically…” (Kirszner and Mandell 84). In the play, Death of a Salesman, there is an assortment of situations exemplifying different kinds of logical fallacies. Cognitive distortions are also present in this play. Some of the characters in Death of a Salesman have thoughts that seem to be slightly unclear. These distortions sometimes result when people “…think in extremes…” (“Cognitive Distortions”).

In the year 1949, Arthur Miller created the play, Death of a Salesman. This is the play that made him most famous (Gioia and Kennedy 1763). “…This work is unquestionably the pinnacle of his achievement” (Gioia and Kennedy 1763). Miller wrote many additional plays, but is best known for Death of a Salesman.

Arthur Miller was born in Harlem, New York on October 17, 1915 (“Blooms Notes” 8). Miller and his family lived in upscale Harlem for the first fourteen years of his life (8). Then after a terrible stock market crash that affected the family heavily, they moved to Brooklyn, New York (8). He attended the University of Michigan where he studied playwriting (8). Besides writing plays he wrote radio scripts, and worked as a steamfitter in World War II (Gioia and Kennedy 1763). He began writing plays around 1936, but “It was the next play that secured his

reputation: Death of a Salesman…” (“Bloom’s Notes” 8). Other plays that Miller has written include The Crucible and All My Sons. He also “…published an autobiography, several volumes of essays, two collections of short stories, and two novels…” (Gioia and Ken…

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…Distortions.” Healthy 2004. 5 Feb. 2009.

Hadhomi, Leah. “Dramatic Rhythm in Death of a Salesman”. Willy Loman. New York: Chelsea House, 1991.

Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. The Brief Wadsworth Handbook. United States: Thompson, 2008.

Miller, Arthur. Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall: Chelsea House, 1996.

Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman”. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. Dana Gioia and X.J. Kennedy.10th Ed. New York: Pearson, 2007.

Murray, Edward. “The Thematic Structure in Death of a Salesman.” Readings on Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press Inc., 1999.

Porter, Thomas E. “Willy Loman and the American Dream.” Readings on Death of a Salesman. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999.

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