A modern tragedian, Miller says he looks to the Greeks for inspiration, particularly Sophocles. "I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing-his sense of personal dignity ,"
Miller writes. "From Orestes to Hamlet, Medea to Macbeth, the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his 'rightful' position in his society."
Miller believes. "It is time that we, who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time-the heart and spirit of the average man ."
In the play, Miller writes, "Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But hes' a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him." Protagonist : Willy Loman Antagonist : In a broad sense, competitive America society
"When I began to write," he said in an interview, "one assumed inevitably that one was in the mainstream that began with Aeschylus and went through about twenty-five hundred years of playwriting."
(from The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller , ed. by Christopher Bigsby, 1997)
A dualism between the plastic "art of sculpture", of lyrical dream-inspiration, identity , order, regularity, and calm repose, and, on the other hand, the non-plastic "art of music", of intoxication, forgetfulness, chaos, and the ecstatic dissolution of identity in the collective.
According to Nietzsche, both elements are present in any work of art. The basic characteristics of expressionism are Dionysian: bold colours, distorted forms-in-dissolution, two-dimensional, without perspective.( to depict the inner emotions)
Throughout the play the Lomans in general cannot distinguish between reality and illusion, particularly Willy.
Willy cannot see who he and his sons are. He believes that they are great men who have what it takes to be successful and beat the business world. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. In reality, Willy and sons are not, and cannot, be successful.
Death of a Salesman premiered in 1949 on the brink of the 1950s, a decade of unprecedented consumerism and technical advances in America. Many innovations applied specifically to the home: it was in the 50s that the TV and the washing machine became common household objects. (Run for More Money)
Willy Loman's career - traveling salesmen are rapidly becoming out-of-date. Significantly, Willy reaches for modern objects, the car and the gas heater, to
He believes that it is not what a person is able to accomplish, but who he knows and how he treats them that will get a man ahead in the world.
This viewpoint is tragically undermined not only by Willy's failure, but also by that of his sons, who assumed that they could make their way in life using only their charms and good looks, rather than any more solid talents.
America has long been known as a land of opportunity. Out of that thinking comes the "American Dream," the idea that anyone can ultimately achieve success, even if he or she began with nothing . America claims to be the land of opportunity, of social mobility. Even the poorest man should be able to move upward in life through his own hard work.
Miller complicates this idea of opportunity by linking it to time, and illustrating that new opportunity does not occur over and over again.
Willy does not recognize that his business principles do not work, and continues to emphasize the wrong qualities.
Biff and Happy are not only stuck with their childhood names in their childhood bedrooms, but also are hobbled by their childhood problems: Biff's bitterness toward his father and Happy's dysfunctional relationship with women.
The words on the ancient Greek temple at Delphi advised, "Know thyself." But Willy continually fails to recognize his limitations. He does not know himself. Consequently, he constantly overreaches himself and thus constantly fails
Willy comes home early from his work trip because he is no longer able to drive. For a traveling salesman, this means he also can’t do his job. Things are falling apart and money is a problem .
His wife, Linda, encourages him to ask his boss for a non-traveling job.
Willy’s mental health isn’t so good, and his sons are noticing that he’s talking to himself more than is socially acceptable . Willy’s mental wanderings are preoccupied with Biff’s aimlessness and inability to find success in business.
To please his dad, Biff decides to ask a former employer, Bill Oliver, for a business loan the next day in order to start a small business.
As a result, both Willy and Biff go to sleep with a plan and high hopes of the next day bringing financial and business success.
The following morning, Biff leaves to talk to Oliver and Willy heads to his boss’s office to ask for a job transfer. Oliver refuses to see Biff for more than a few seconds and Biff definitely doesn’t get a loan. Biff realizes that he was totally deluded and steals Oliver’s pen .
Willy has approached his boss to get a non-traveling job, and has totally failed. He ends up begging to keep his original traveling gig, but is fired instead .
Depressed about his failed dreams of success, Willy attempts to hide from his son’s failures as well. Biff continues to try to force the truth on his father.
The argument ends with Willy understanding that Biff loves him. However, Act II still ends with Willy’s suicide