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Arthur Miller's Version Of The American Dream, Death Of A Salesman

1321 words - 6 pages

The tragic play Death of a Salesman, by American playwright Arthur Miller, involves the use of many different symbols and motifs to help justify different ideas and messages. It is these symbols and motifs that are used to reveal the characters' true personalities, and that also help further develop them throughout the course of the play. Motifs and symbols greatly contribute to the development of thematic ideas, and their delivery to the reader or audience. The seeds that Willy purchases, the diamonds that are constantly referred to, as well as the fountain pen that Biff stole are all significant in conveying three of Miller's major ideas in this play. The seeds help represent Willy's ...view middle of the document...

Willy is working to grow something with the seeds, just as how he worked hard as a salesman to make his way up the ladder in old man Wagner's company, and how he put all his heart into raising Biff to follow the dream he had set out for him. However, the seeds being planted will never grow, and nothing will ever be cultivated; just as how after 34 years spent in the Wagner firm, Willy's career is disgracefully ended when he is fired by company boss Howard, never having accomplished anything great. Willy also depends on his son Biff and has high hopes for him, only to see him grow up to be a big disappointment. The seeds help emphasize the fact that all of Willy's attempts to live out the American Dream, of starting off with nothing and becoming prosperous due to dedication and hard work, are in vain.In the play, diamonds greatly symbolize and enforce the message that to attain success and obtain wealth, one must work hard but also take chances. Willy's father abandoned his sons when they were still very young, and moved to Alaska. Later on, Willy's brother, Ben, decided to join his father in the snowy North but instead ended up in Africa, where he discovered diamond mines in the jungle and became exceedingly rich. "William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich!" (Ben, p.40-41) Ben took risks in his life; he took a gamble by deciding to go rejoin with his father, and took another one when he chose to search the African jungle for four years of his life. These brave moves paid off well for Ben, and had Willy seized the opportunity to take on the same journey as his brother, he would find himself in the same comfortable position. However, due to some convincing coming from Linda, and his own lack of risk-taking, Willy decides to stay in New York and work as a salesman. Similar to the seeds, diamonds bring out Willy's hopes of becoming rich and living the American Dream, and how all of his attempts to make his hopes a reality result in failure. Willy is no lazy man, yet he never takes any chances, too afraid to jeopardize the little bit that he has built up for himself. This is a major factor behind his downfall in terms of maintaining a stable life for not only his family, but also himself.The third and final symbolic element in Death of a Salesman that influences a thematic idea or statement is the...

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