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Death Of A Salesman: An Overview

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The play "Death Of A Salesman" , the brainchild of Arthur Miller was
transformed and fitted to the movie screen in the year 1986. The play itself is
set in the house of Willy Loman, and tells the melancholy story of a salesman
whom is in deep financial trouble, and the only remedy for the situation is to
commit suicide. In the stage production of this tale, the specific lighting,
set, and musical designs really give the story a strong undertow of depression.
And logically the screen and stage productions both differ greatly in regards to
the mood they set. Moreover the movie production can do many things that just
cannot be done on stage, with reference to the setting of course. To generalize,
the play gives us a good hard look at the great American Dream failing miserably.
However the combination of both the stage and screen productions accurately
depict the shortcomings of the capitalist society.
Death of a Salesman specifically focuses on four characters, the first
being the main character Willy Loman, his wife Linda, and their two sons Hap and
Biff Loman. As mentioned, the focal point of this play is Willy Loman, a
salesman in his early sixties. Throughout the story we are told the hard life,
emotions and triumphs of Willy the salesman. Early in the play we learn that
he has recently been demoted to working for commission, which later in the
play,(on par with his luck) translates into Willy getting fired. As the plot
unfolds we discover that Willy had a rich brother who recently died named Ben,
whom Willy looked upon with great admiration for becoming extremely wealthy and
the ripe old age of 21. However Willy also becomes very depressed when Ben
leaves, the fact being that he re-realizes the meagerness of his own life, and
that he is still making payments on all of his possessions. Willy then
comprehends that bye the time his worldly possessions are paid for'they shall no
longer be of any use. For example, the Loman house has become virtually
unnecessary now that the two sons have moved out. It isn't until after Willy's
death that the final mortgage payment is made'.for a house with no one inside it.
The one example of this statement is given by Linda during the final paragraph
of the play,
"I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there
will be nobody home. We're free and clear'''.we're free''.we're free''''
we're free"
As the plot thickens, Willy the salesman plummets deeper and deeper into
depression until his most likely route of action, which of course is suicide.
However the reasoning behind this course of action, we find, is his genuine love
for his family, along with Willy's deep longing to supply his family with as
much money as he can possibly get his hands on. As we learn more about Willy's
trials and tribulations, the age old expression "like father like son" appears
out of nowhere like a beacon. Like his father, Willy's son Biff also has some
problems of his own, the main one being that Biff cannot seem to find his niche
in life. Furthermore, we are told that Biff at one point did in fact have his
future all planned out. It turns out that Biff was a shoe-in for a position on
the University Of Virginia State football team. However, that chance was all
but lost when Biff did not qualify to pass his final mathematics course. Now as
you can imagine the fact that Biff had to explain this to his father was quite a
large problem in itself. But to add insult to injury, when Biff made the trip
to Boston to explain his mathematical dilemma, he is horrified to find that his
father has been with another women. And this one incident would leave Biff
being an entirely different person altogether. He didn't even make an attempt
to finish his math in summer school. After Boston, Biff couldn't have cared
less what happened to his own life. However, as is in life, out of something
horrible comes something worthy. And Biff finally comes to the realization that
he in fact wants to make his future. And that future entails working in the
outdoors on a farm. The other reasoning behind this life decision is of course,
is to go against the wishes and values that his father has tried to instill in
Biff his entire life. Biff pours his heart to his brother Hap one quarter
through act I.
'.."To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls,
or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks a year for the sake of a two week
vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off ..."
Fortunately for Biff, he determines his future by the play's conclusion.
He comes to the understanding that he and Willy were never meat to be business
men. Including that they were intended to be working on a farm with their hands.
And after vexing to procure Hap to come with him (which is to no avail), he
escapes from his home to continue on with the rest of his life. Which for Biff
seems to be the soundest choice, the decision that Willy just couldn't make.
Hap on ...

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