Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM


Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.


Death of a Salesman

No description

Chris Katcher

on 9 January 2014

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman
By: Arthur Miller

Superficial Take on Success (argument #1)
Self-destruction and the failure of Willy's dreams (argument #3)
Drive for Self Appeasement
(argument #2)

Resistance to reality (obj. #2)
Hard Work or Good Looks? (obj.#1)
After Willy’s dreams of grandeur failed, and he was thrown from his false reality into the real world he began to degrade himself mentally. The notion that Willy is “always in a race with the junkyard” represents that the material desires of the pre-depression era are short-lived and only give short term gratification (48). Arthur Miller uses rhetorical questioning to emphasis Willy’s frustration with his broken down life when Willy asks “Whoever heard of a Hastings refrigerator” and that he would like to “own something outright” before it broke (48). The occupation of a salesman pulled Willy in many directions, suggesting that he was never actually in control of of his own life, and that he was starting to break before he actually took hold of his well-being. Additionally, Willy was never able to “imagine sleeping till ten on a Tuesday morning,” setting a tone of false optimism, holding in his actual emotions and inevitably leading to a psychological breakdown (53). The exclamatory syntax used when Willy proclaimed “screw the business world!” is further evidence of Willy’s frustration and overall loss of his desires (61).
Our main character Willy, strives to find self appeasement for his achievements in life. He tries to find it through his idea of the “american dream”; which includes finding success, careers for his son's, happiness, and wealth. But when they failed they only got bigger and increased in stature. Willy’s idea of his own worth had been“about a dream for fifteen years” in which they had only expanded in time (78). His own self appeasement wasn't determined by himself, but by peers only because he sees how “other men have it easier” but, by this standard Willy let others set precedents while he watched others achieve what he wanted (24). In addition we also find a true reflection of his reality, in his home. We see by the stage notes, and by his wife Linda that his home is run down, with a new refrigerator which had to be fixed, and car payments due. These problems only reinstate the fact that he isn't making good money, revealed by the ongoing problem with his job. With all his downfalls, it only shows how he fails to meet his own appeasements, it ultimately kills him.
By: Emma Dickinson, Isabella Grillo, Chris Katcher, Chris Spinella, Ryan Snow, and Scott Reynolds.

The failures of Willy Loman represent the death of the American Dream as a whole. He had similar aspirations to the American Dream, yet his methods were skewed from the rest. His superficial take on success and his drive for self appeasement ultimately lead to his mental self-destruction and the failure of his dream; the American Dream.

Scholarly Article Critique #1: Lives in Limbo
Scholarly Article Critique #2: HARD Sell
Works Cited
Willy sought to achieve success by selling and working constantly. He preached that the “world [is an] oyster” and that one can’t “crack it open” and find the pearl, or success and financial stability of life, by staying at home (28). Miller uses the metaphor comparing the world to an oyster to show Willy’s superficial stance on success. Willy only sought to find the “pearl” in life, only to be disappointed when there was none. He ignored love and compassion from his family to become financially secure. Willy’s changing character is revealed by Biff when he sees “what is become” of Willy when he loses his job and loses all hope of success (82). Willy’s superficial attitude on success is what caused him to drown into such a deep depression when he lost his job.

Lives and Limbo
projects the exact image of
Death of a Salesman
as Miller had intended it to be, a tragedy. Although Willy once epitomized the American Dream, his dim awareness that "something in him is going terribly wrong" creates a sense of disturbance and disconnection with reality as he searches his thoughts for an answer. The article revealed that confiding his thoughts in his wife have caused her distress. Fearing for his health, Linda Loman along with Biff and Happy are becoming increasingly disconnected with Willy, representing the decline of the American Dream. The fact that "Willy has never actually known his boys...only his dream of them" reveals his inability to see and believe the reality that confronts him. By avoiding the truth in his life, the entire Loman family lives in this illusion that there is nothing wrong and continue to do so even after the lie is exposed. The article also touches on Willy's disillusionment through his focus on being well liked in order to achieve success. Ironically, in his efforts to be successful, Willy "lost his concentration, his sales, his job, his temper,"and worst of all, his family. His desire to be the image of American individualism lead to his overall demise. In response to this point, the article makes a very important assessment: "Willy, for all his fervent dreams of the future and his fierce argument with the past, never, ever, occupies his present." This reveals that Willy's focus on the past and nostalgic memories will never suffice in their modern world. Furthermore, it continues to disconnect Willy from society. By becoming trapped in his memories, Willy's presence appears no more than a ghost-like apparition still confined to this world. Reality does indeed catch up with Willy however, to the point where it becomes inescapable. The article makes note of this by comparing the acknowledgment of reality to gravity and how it weighs his "lump body down like a rumpled suit." In attempt to escape reality, Willy ends his life, hoping the insurance money will lead his sons to the success he always dreamed of. By refusing to accept reality, Willy Loman took his beliefs to his grave, never going back on his dream.

HARD Sell provides Les Freres Corbusier's idea of a unique twist on
Death of a Salesman
. His image involves changing race, scenery and focusing more on the playful music rather than the pursuing drama. The negligence to race will only hurt the success of this new production due to the differences in character. While Willy Loman is characterized by obsession over his image of the American dream, African Americans at this time were not obsessed with this said "American dream" as they were more concerned with earning a living to merely survive. This difference between race is more than a physical difference, the emotion behind a black Willy would be drastically different from the Willy of Miller's play. Secondly, the changes in scenery alter the theme of the American dream as a whole. Rather than living in a "small, fragile home," the Loman's would live on the first floor of a tenement, completely neglecting the imagery referring to the reoccurring themes. Finally, Corbusier attempts to alter the tone of the play as he shifts his focus from profound american drama to attempts of creating a more playful "american musical." These supposed mild changes will alter the play to the extent where themes are radically changed. The satire expressed in this article helps to explain this abomination for what it is or rather what it isn't. What it is not is Arthur Miller's
Death of a Salesman
as it goes against multiple themes and recreates the image as Corbusier sees it. While it may still emphasize the time frame, Corbusier's brain child is nothing more than mediocre.
While one may say Willy sought to achieve success by selling and working constantly, he repeatedly states that good looks will lead to success. Despite Biffs inadequate grade point average, Willy believes his son’s Adonis-like build is all he needs for success (67). In spite of his beliefs, the realization that there is more to success than just good looks, it takes skill to obtain a stable career. Biff realizes he is but "a dime a dozen"and attempts to convince his father of this (99). Willy’s stubbornness however, blocks out this realization as he refuses to be "a dime a dozen" thus further neglecting reality. Based on these facts, it can be said that it is Willy’s stubbornness in his beliefs rather than his superficial attitude that leads to his own demise.
It is not a failure of self appeasement, but the resistance to reality which ultimately kills Willy Loman. Although He was able to find self-appeasement throughout his thoughts, his mind does not see him fail to meet these standards needed for success. As things began to go downhill, Willy looks for an explanation in the past rather than questioning his own beliefs. What truly killed him was his desire to escape reality, having full faith in his own beliefs. Biff attempts to bring him into reality, stating “I’m a dime a dozen...and so are you,” Willy refuses to accept this and in response he states “I am Willy Loman...and you are Biff Loman! (99)” His faith in his own beliefs were rooted so deep, he ultimately corrupts the life of his son Happy who wishes to follow his father’s dream. Not only did this resistance to reality take Willy’s, but it may also engulf the life of his sons.
Hard Work or Good Looks? (Reply#1)
While Willy may seem ignorant to the his children's true potential, it is more than an overstatement to suggest Willy's views are wrong. His son Happy does aspire to become extremely successful but in his father's eyes he is still childish due to his adolescent sex drive and his use of poor business practices. In any father's eyes this would be viewed as unprofessional and would deter any thought of success. Biff on the other hand lost every job he had ever held. It would be laughable for him to tell his father that he actually has more potential than he presents. Willy even jabs at Biff when he states "Yeah, sure. If you hadn’t flunked…"(81). This shows that his opinions are well justified and are in no way the means to his own downfall.

The fall of Willy Loman is the perfect example of how the American Dream, as an ideal, has become skewed from its original precedents and purpose. Willy's mental breakdown, superficial perception of success and the "perfect life", and empty determination to appease himself truly reflect the failure of his dreams, and represents the demise of the the morals and ideals that embody the American Dream. While opponents of this argument may say that Willy thought success was directly correlated to good looks and that his resistance to reality and lack of self control caused his mental breakdown, their beliefs are a categorical farce.

Physical vs. Mental Control
(obj. #3)
While the occupation of a salesman may suggest a lack of control, Willy is always physically in control of his own life. He possesses the physical ability to change his life. It is his mental struggle that prevents him from doing so. It is the struggle between Willy’s mental and physical world that restricts the control of his own life rather than his demanding career. Through his inability to escape his inner thoughts, Willy in unable to control the reality that surrounds him. Based on this, it is his inner argument rather than his profession that restricts his control over his own life.

Physical vs. Mental Control
(Reply #3)
While the occupation of a salesman may suggest a lack of control, Willy is always physically in control of his own life. He possesses the physical ability to change his life. It is his mental struggle that prevents him from doing so. It is the struggle between Willy’s mental and physical world that restricts the control of his own life rather than his demanding career. Through his inability to escape his inner thoughts, Willy in unable to control the reality that surrounds him. Based on this, it is his inner argument rather than his profession that restricts his control over his own life.
Resistance to Reality
(reply #2)
In Willy's mind, he understood reality, he simply didn't have the means to achieve that reality. All he wanted for himself was happiness, and he believed that he could achieve that through riches and popularity. He wanted the same for his sons. Everything he ever did or said was, in his mind, for the good of his family and his future. However, he ultimately accepts the fact that he cares for his sons and would rather them be happy and fatherless then condemned to the same misfortunes and failures that he was forced to endure. Knowing Biff "is going to be magnificent," he willingly ends his life, not only to end his suffering, but to achieve at least one part of his dreams (98). He sacrifices himself for the good of his sons, and his sons' success was more important to him than his own life and happiness.
Lahr, John. "Hard Sell." The New Yorker. N.p., 25 May 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2013. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/theatre/2009/05/25/090525crth_theatre_lahr?currentPage=1.
Lahr, John. "Lives in Limbo." The New Yorker. N.p., 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2013. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/theatre/2012/03/26/120326crth_theatre_lahr.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Print. The Viking Press, 1949.
Full transcript