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The Notion Of Competition: Death of a Salesman

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Nick Commisso

on 13 November 2015

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Transcript of The Notion Of Competition: Death of a Salesman

The Notion Of Competition: Death of a Salesman

In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, the development of the notion of competition reveals the negative aspects within the Loman family and eventually is the sole cause of Willy's downfall in life. This is evident through:
Interesting Fact
"[Willy] is tormented by the success of
B
en,
B
ernard, and
B
ill Oliver and by the failure of
B
iff, which began with his son's flunking math seventeen years ago. (Ardelino, 3).


Connection to
Marxism
-As we have been over in class, Marxism is the analysis of class relations and conflicts within society that involve production and wealth being split equally upon all people.
-This is seen throughout the world today, through both really economics and also literature. To further explain...
Conclusion
To sum up, in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman, the development of the notion of competition reveals the negative aspects within the Loman family and is the main cause in Willy's eventual downfall. This is evident through Willy's desire for his sons to be more successful than Bernard, his ambition to be a more successful man than Charley and his goal to be more admired than all other salesmen.
1:Wanting Biff and Happy to be more successful than Bernard
- Although Willy judges his sons choices and lives multiple times throughout the play, Biff and Happy mean the world to him. They are his pride, and, more importantly, he believes that they are a sole physical example of what kind of father he is.
2: Ambition to Be a More Successful Man Than Bernard
Willy and Charley have a very two-sided relationship; there are times when they hate each other, such as when they got into the fight over the "5th ace" in the deck of cards, but then can be some genuine friends to one another, Charley lending him money frequently and Willy even saying, "you're the only friend I got." So what can we take from this?
Describe the idea you think is best
3: Goal to Be More Admired than All Other Salesmen
It's no surprise that Willy wants to be remembered and successful, and for all of his coworkers and fellow members of the profession to appreciate him. After all, that's all he wanted from his sons, neighbours and all other people as well.
Willy's desire for his sons to be more successful than Bernard
Ambition to be a more successful man than Charley
His goal to be the most admired salesman
Identify the problem
-Willy has the impression that likability and the impression you leave on people is the most important aspect of being successful (will visit this topic again)
Secondary Source Quote
"The New York Times wrote that Miller seized an essential feature of American psychology but felt that England, despite its national taste for games, would continue to believe that it took more than being well liked to gain diamonds" (Stagg 2)
Charley: The Good Guy
- Willy has always wanted to be more successful than Charley, whether to show he's a better father or just a higher-class man
How problems could have been resolved
-If Willy could just accept the help from Charley and have some humility to accept he was wrong, maybe his family would be stable and he would still be alive
VIDEO!
-Death of a salesman can be related to Marxism through Willy's constant struggle to achieve his American dream
Pro
Con
The Decision
-After everything has essentially hit rock bottom for Willy and his family, he starts talking to Ben (hallucination) about potentially committing suicide for several reasons (next slide)
Selfish or Selfless?
-This fatal action can be taken as a selfish act or a act for others; whichever way you interpret it
-Regardless of his reasoning, it still doesn't let him off the hook for his original ambition; to be the most remembered business man
Based on Jim Harvey's speech structures
What is Competition?
-Competition, through social or biological
interaction, is the contest between two or more people, groups, or any organism to achieve success
- Competition must always have a winner and a loser, as 99% of the time the goal or award may not be shared
- This invigorates and motivates individuals to work hard and strive to overcome the other party, for one simple reason:
nobody wants to finish second, as all people want to be successful
-Competition is believed to be the very driving force of adaptation and evolution (Darwin's idea of Natural selection)
- The idea of competition; people trying to overcome others for their goals isn't actually that bad, and can actually be good to the development of life
Displaying ambition to reach one's goals over another person
-However, competition can also be
negative
if taken too seriously
-This is commonly seen in both real life and in literature, as individuals become consumed with the desire to be a winner, which leads us to...
Competition and it's negative effects in Death of a Salesman
As Willy has his first flashback of the play to when his boys were in high school, he explains to them that he is content with how they are growing up, and is so proud that they are both
well-liked
and
popular
.
-Willy sees that Bernard clearly has the better academic record over Biff and Happy, but is not concerned with that at all, as he believes that his kids will be more successful in the future because Bernard
isn't well liked
"Be liked, and you will never want" (Miller, 21)
-Willy's competitive nature stops Biff from studying with Bernard, as he wants to prove his parenting and guidance is better than the morals being instilled by Charley
- However, this sense of
competition
to be a better father causes Willy to instill the wrong morals in his sons, not truly raising them to be successful in life. In short;
Popularity
>
Hard Work
-Whether he admits it or not, the fact Charley is able to pays his bills easily and Bernard is now a successful man kills him, as he starts to realize his whole game plan was wrong, and
he
is the loser in this game
-This means that he refuses to accept a helping hand from Charley, as he feels that he is inferior and is given pity from the man he wants to overcome (this is why Willy believes the money Charley gives him isn't a loan, and he will not accept a job from him even if he's making no money.
WHY WOULD HE DO THIS?
"Who liked J.P Morgan? Was he impressive? In a Turkish bath he'd look like a butcher. But with his pockets on he was really well liked" (Miller, 75).
-Charley has the correct mindset, which is that hard work and determination overcome popularity and charisma, which explains why he and his son are both enjoying life in their latter years
-Instead, his arrogance and incredible need to be above Charley causes damage throughout all his family, thus proving how competition affects the Loman family negatively
The letter "B" and Willy don't get along
- "But the funeral-Ben, the funeral will be massive!
They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire!" (Miller, 100).
-For one, he could have committed suicide just to gain the "admiration" from salesmen all around the country
-"Ironically, the metaphorical level of language reveals that Charley, who does not have the skills of a carpenter, has successfully built where Willy has failed. Charley's son Bernard matured in harmony with chronological time. He completed his education, became a lawyer, married and had two children" (Ardelino, 4)
-Otherwise he could have been looking out for his family, giving them approximately $20,000 to live off
-If he didn't want Biff to realize how liked he was, or if he didn't originally submit the idea that being the most popular makes you successful, maybe Willy wouldn't have taken his life and looked for a different way around his dilemna.
-This all reflects Willy's competitive nature, and how being above the rest and being the most successful isn't always the best motivation in life; taking his life and putting his family into emotional distress proves how competition truly brings out the negative aspects in the Loman family
How is it related to DOAS?
-Willy constantly fights for wealth, as he believes economic status creates happiness and satisfaction in life; causes him to lose sight of the most meaningful aspects in life (e.g. family)

-The ambition that he portrays shows how much he wants to be successful; just for all the wrong reasons. This is a main reason why he fails to achieve it. ("keep reaching, reaching and reaching but still can't get there)
-In the end, it really doesn't matter how popular or likeable you are; it's your determination and work ethic that brings you far in life.
AFTER INTRO
Full transcript