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Examining the Resolution in Death of a Salesman (Essay Sample)


Seeing the world through the protagonist's eyes.
In the final act of Death of a Salesman, while standing at the graveside of his father, Biff tells his brother, Happy, that Biff knows who he is. But does he? Does Happy? By claiming that, finally, Biff knows who he is, Biff sets himself apart from his dead father, Willy Loman, declaring that Willy “never knew who he was.”
If you were to argue whether or not one of Willy’s sons has come to a better understanding of himself through Willy’s death, what line from the play would you use to illustrate and support your argument? Why?
Think about how a character’s self-knowledge, or lack thereof, reflects a larger issue or theme revealed in the play. Think about how a character’s motivation is revealed by the dialogue or actions of that character within the play. Finally, think about the world of the play and how a theme is revealed by the motivation and actions of the play’s characters.
In a primary post of at least 250 words, analyze the dialogue taking place in the Requiem for Death of a Salesman, discussing specifically Biff’s statement about his father, Willy Loman, that Willy “had the wrong dreams” and/or “didn’t know who he was.”
•Reflecting back on Willy’s actions and dialogue in the play, do you agree or disagree with Biff’s declaring that his dad “never knew who he was ”? Why? What quote from Willy Loman in the previous two (2) acts supports your position?
•How does Willy’s dilemma in the play relate to his sons?
•How does Willy’s dilemma in the play, and Willy’s relationship with his sons, particularly with Biff, relate to a larger theme in the play?
•Why is the idea of self-knowledge so important to the play’s conclusion?
Miller, A. (1949). Death of a Salesman. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from http://www(dot)pelister(dot)org/literature/ArthurMiller/Miller_Salesman.pdf

Analyzing the Requiem in Death of a Salesman
Written in 1949, just a few years after World War 2, Death of a Salesman tackles the issues surrounding the American Dream of material success at the expense of moral vision and personal truth. It was addressed to a nation in the midst of powerful contradictions – where America propagates a peaceful, homogenous and gleeful community life but the reality was that many Americans were unable to subscribe this prosperous lifestyle of the middle class.
Many Americans lived like the Lomans – a father who works hard to sustain a family, a mother who has to stay at home and care for the kids, and the kids who are expected to become important people when they become adults. Willy Loman, the salesman, lives his entire life in search for the American Dream. He leaves his family to go on sales trips, buys a nice house and furnishes it with appliances, and even manages to keep a mistress in the process. He has it good – until reality sets in.
We know from the requiem that the Lomans has a lot of debts, even their house was on loan. Linda says, "I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there'll be nobody home" ADDIN CSL_CITATION { "citationItems" : [ { "id" : "ITEM-1", "itemData" : { "author" : [ { "dropping-particle" : "", "family" : "Miller", "given" : "Arthur", "non-dropping-particle" : "", "parse-names" : false, "suffix" : "" } ], "id" : "ITEM-1", "issued" : { "date-parts" : [ [ "1949" ] ] }, "title" : "Death of a Salesman", "type" : "book" }, "locator" : "104", "uris" : [ "/documents/?uuid=729e2365-a36c-4638-8b48-cb252254e986" ] } ], "mendeley" : { "formattedCitation" : "(Miller, 1949, p. 104)", "plainTextFormattedCitation" : "(Miller, 1949, p. 104)", "previouslyFormattedCitation" : "(Miller 104)" }, "properties" : { "noteIndex" : 0 }, "schema" : "" }(Miller, 1949, p. 104). It would have been a grand time for a celebration – finally, the Lomans could enjoy the material possessions they have acquired – but Willy is no longer there to enjoy this day. These words show the worthlessness of Willy's quest for material wealth, all because he cannot be contented with what he has. He compares his life with his neighbours, and of course, he does not measure up. And so he worked even harder, and in the process, lost his family, and even his friends.
Of his father, Biff says, "He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong...He never knew who he was" ADDIN CSL_CITATION { "citationItems" : [ { "id" : "ITEM-1", "itemData" : { "author" : [ { "dropping-particle" : "", "family" : "Miller", "given" : "Arthur", "non-dropping-particle" : "", "parse-names" : false, "suffix" : "" } ], "id" : "ITEM-1", ...
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