Death of the Salesman by Arthur Miller

The drama Death of the Salesman won a Pulitzer Prize and its central idea is the argument with the American dream. The Arthur Miller's works represent the tension between the materialism and the sense of transcendence of the poetic. Arthur Miller was a dramatist, who managed to show the ordinary individuals isolation in the ambitious world, where people find themselves in the constant pursuit of their dreams. Death of Salesman is a work filled with sadness, despair, and pessimism. The play represents the audience, not the secular dilemmas, which could be easily solved with the course of time through the development of human mind. It is the unchangeable social drama, which depicts the inhumanity and destruction. The main objective of the work is to investigate the concepts of unalterable destruction of the modern world through the concepts of form and the dialogue.


Willy Loman as Protagonist of the Work

Willy Loman is the main character of the book, and his central trait was the lack of values. The man has been working for a company for the 36 year. However, with the course of time, he became unable to cope with his tasks as the young workers did. His job loss was a great tragedy. Moreover, he was unsatisfied with his sons Biff and Happy. He wanted them to become successful, but it turned out that they become casual workers. Biff has been an excellent football player at school. However, after he discovered that Willy had had an affair with another woman, his life vision was destroyed. In such way, it can be assumed that Willy has destructed his ideals by himself, because he simply could not become the good father and a salesman. Unfortunately, the main hero did not want to admit his failure, and he simply escaped into his daydreams. After revealing of his flaws he could not find another solution rather than death.

Form of the Drama

While discussing the form of the work, it should be assumed that Miller used the mix of realism and expressionism in it. Moreover, he attempted to apply the retrospective structure, which was previously applied in Ibsen's works (Marino, 22). Such structure presupposes putting a present situation in a crisis after the revelation of the crucial event in the past. In such case, the significant event is Miller's adultery. It has resulted in his sons' estrangement and the reason of his weak emotional state. The realistic form of the drama is supported by the details of the Willy's family life. They include Chevrolet, refrigerators, and car payments.

The expressionistic features of the work are manifested through the characterization. For instance, Ben is less real as others, and he is the expression of the Willy's desires.

Through the application of such form author tries to attract the attention of the readers to the Willys wrong ideals and desires. The mix of realistic and expressionistic devices assisted the author to portray Willy's inner ideas. While the story creates the reality before the Willys house, it is also occupied by different symbols, which suggest that there exist something essential under the mask of the tangible world. The form assisted in making the audience witness present and past simultaneously and to draw the necessary conclusions. In such way, the author has managed to show that Willys materialistic desires were not just the secular things, but constant ideas present in his minds. He used Willy to show modern people and their desires in general. And the form of his tragedy has showed that people slowly destroy themselves and turn into materialistic and inhuman creatures.

Significance of the Dialogue in the Drama

The dialogues are also significant for the representation of the author's ideas. With the help of the dialogues author revealed the nature of his character and his central topic. The final scene where Biff is standing on his father's grave and rejects his life ideas is extremely essential. When he states that he had all wrong dreams, he states the central idea of the work. During all his life, Willy denied his responsibility for mistakes he had done and pursued wrong dreams. The speech is introduced in the end of the work to emphasize the inescapable conditions of human existence that compel us all to dream (Centola, 62). The dialogues in the book played the important role for stating that people are in the difficult condition.


In conclusion, it has to be assumed that the work Death of the Salesman is the bright manifestation of the inhumanity and human life destruction. Author communicates his viewpoint to the readership through the application of particular form of drama, which mixes the realistic and expressionistic tools, and the dialogues. The central idea of his work is showing the misery hidden in the American dream. Miller tried to show that it makes people blind and in the pursuit of their ideals they do not notice the treasures, which they already possess.