1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 77: Death Of A Salesman, by Arthur Miller

Stylistically, Death Of A Salesman is an interesting experiment for the stage. It embraces steam-of-consciousness and adapts it rather effectively to the theatre setting, portraying a characters who is emotionally and financially bankrupt, and in all likelihood is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The play drifts from his present day life, to an idealized past and describes a hopeful future, but the hope offered is without substance and this makes the play depressingly predictable. The narrative includes a faithful and naïve wife, and two sons, one who is following in his father’s footsteps, the other self-destructive, and neither behave as though they are building their way to a brighter future, merely taking whatever lies before them and hoping to last another day. The protagonist is unsympathetic at best, and pathetic at worse, and speaks romantically about a life void of meaning and spent lining the pockets of another whilst barely having enough to get by on his own. Willy Loman is proud to the point of poverty, and even though he is offered work he would rather starve in pride, all while we watch as he fails as both a father and a husband. By the time the narrative concludes, the play is simply going through the motions. We know already that Loman will die and that his funeral will fail to meet the romanticized ideals which he outlines in the play, and we know that his wife will be alone and his sons will remain steadfastly on a course to nowhere, and when the play brings us this predictable ending, it seems clichéd. It would have been better to leave us with our foreknowledge and spend more time delving into the matriarch, or some of the other peripheral characters. As it stands, the play paints the American dream to be as shallow as the people who chase after it, and that is not exactly a revelation.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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