Many authors try to delve into this subject, but fail to understand or elaborate it with any true depth. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, human philosophy, sacrifice, and suicide are motifs that are so accurately analyzed that they almost become blase’. Death of a Salesman tells the story of an old salesman Willy, who was once successful but now, nearing the end of his career, finds himself utterly useless. Willy finds it hard to grasp his insignificance; he spent most of his career trying to convince himself and others that he was somebody important, somebody respected. Willy spends his life preparing his oldest son Biff for what he hopes to be a glorious career; he wants Biff to be the salesman that he himself could never be. Willy fails as a father, teaching Biff the wrong morals, morals that armed Biff for a life of firings and unemployment instead of glory and success. Willy realizes that he has to do something to turn his life around, so he commits suicide in the hopes that Biff would use his insurance money to create his own business. However, like all his previous ventures, Willy?s plan fails. His insurance company does not cover suicide, and only a few people show up to Willy?s low budget funeral. The beauty of this story is not in dialogue or character growth, but in psycho-analyzing the emotions of a man trying to do the right thing with limited resources. Arthur Miller understands the struggles that Willy has to go through, the sacrifices that humans must make, and translates them beautifully into the play.
By Steven D.