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Marxist Theory: Death of a Salesman
Transcript of Marxist Theory: Death of a Salesman
A presentation by:
Julie Nguyen, Tiffany Nguyen, Lourdes Marin, and Karen Ortega
Introduction to Marxism:
Theory and movement led by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
States that society has been dominated by ruling class or the wealthy (the
who take advantage of the lower class, the
Calls for revolutionary action to bring industrial working class to power
"Dictatorship of the proletariat"
mid 19th century
The Communist Manifesto
Factors of production organized to produce conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat.
Subordinate working class (proletariat) no longer exploited by dominating class (bourgeoisie) when classless society is created.
Destroy ownership of private property
Piecemeal or gradual reform cannot eliminate injustices--revolution must occur.
Revolution is bound to happen as suffering continues to occur among working class.
Factors of production must be shared amongst all.
Who is Karl Marx?
ideas influenced many communist regimes
father of "Marxism"
Death of a Salesman Overview
play by Arthur Miller
a salesman named Willy Loman chasing after his American Dream
unable to accomplish his long term goals
impose his dream upon his children, Biff and Happy
How does this connect to Marxism?
exemplifies Karl Marx's ideas in the Communist Manifesto
Adds emphasis on class structures
Bourgeoisie looks down on proletariat and relies on them to do the "dirty work"
Proletariat depends on bourgeoisie for employment and salary
Clear representation of the two classes of people in society and their dependency upon one another
Dominant group controls and takes advantage of the subordinate group's future financial situation
Beta follows the alpha male
However, alpha is nothing without a beta.
"A leader is nothing without his followers."
The American Dream
Dominant group reveals subordinate's death of the American Dream
Higher class determines fate of lower class: will they or will they not be able to accomplish goals?
Lower class has no option but to follow higher class's orders which leads to downfall of lower class dreams.
Death of A Salesman: American Dream
There are two interpretations of the possibilities of the American Dream :
It is possible, and it isn't possible.
It is not possible:
In the play, Miller shows the dream as a falsehood
It is not for everyone
Willy Loman tries to pursue this dream
Willy is part of the Proletariat Class
Willy Loman works hard to succeed, but his preconceived notion that popularity brings success ultimately leads to his downfall.
Marxism: separation of classes- proletariat & bourgeoisie
Death of a Salesman Theme: American Dream
portrays roles of dominant groups and subordinate groups
Miller emphasizes the way that the ruling class takes advantage of the working class
Howard vs. Willy
Bernard vs. Biff
Charley vs Willy
Internal Conflict: popularity vs identity
Howard: I don't want you to represent us. I've been meaning to tell you for a long time now.
Willy: Howard, are you firing me?
Howard : I think you need a good long rest Willy.
Young Bernard: Biff flunked math!
Young Bernard: Birnbaum flunked him, they won't graduate him.
Popularity vs Identity
Upper class tends to be popular because they have money and power.
Lower class isn't really paid attention to because they don't have what the upper class does. All they have to offer is their working hands.
This also creates a separation in classes because if you're upper class, you tend to be popular, whereas if you're poor, you're not swarmed by people.
Money and power make one seem more attractive
Money and power can really take over a person internally
Societal Pyramid Structure
bourgeoisie: "ruling class"
proletariat: "working class"
Death of a Salesman
What association does the play show between money & power?
The play shows that money IS power. Money is what will ultimately bring success.
In what way are the subordinate groups dominated by the dominating groups?
Dominating groups are aware of the fact that they have power over the subordinate groups.
- (example) relationship between Howard and Willy
- children are unhappy b/c Willy's dreams aren't necessarily what they want for themselves
This is marxism.
story shows a man and his struggle to get to the top.
left of a political spectrum
Characters who prove that the American dream is indeed real:
Ben achieved the dream out of luck. Struck diamonds in Africa and became extremely wealthy.
Benard achieved the American Dream through hard work and dedication to his studies.
Howard's achievements were practically handed to him by his father.
Marxism is basically a form of communism.
elimination of capitalism
He is so blinded by this idea that he will become successful just because he is well liked, and as a result of that, he never gains what he sought out to achieve.