Death of a Salesman


Deathof a Salesman

Millerand Mamet have similar opinions concerning the American domestictragedy. Mamet draws his explanation from the play by Arthur Miller.He is of the opinion that many Americans have problems for which theytry to find solutions but they do not find any. Instead they run intomore problems just like the character Willy in the play. Miller alsobelieves in the existence of American heroes who undergo tragicevents for the greater good. He says in his article that the tragichero is not just a concept that applies to kings and royalty but alsoto the common man (Miller, 1949). These opinions help us to identifythe theme of self awareness in the play by Miller.

Thetheme of self awareness develops with the plot and is fully expressedat the end of the book. Willy, the main character is conscious aboutthe things that are going on in his life (Abootson, 2003). He isworried about the state of his business especially at times when hecannot sell anything. He is also concerned about the people aroundhim when his business fails. When he is talking to the woman he says,“I get the feeling that I will never sell anything again, that Iwon’t make a living for you, or a business, a business for theboys. There is so much I want to make for…” (Miller, 1949, page25). This is a case of self consciousness and self awareness in theplay.

Thetheme of self awareness also shows itself when the main characterWilly tries to compare himself to other people. This is a problemthat up affects all the people around the world even during thesemodern times. Some people feel that they are inadequate or less humanbecause they compare themselves and what they have to what otherpeople have. In Act I of the play, we see a case where Willysays,”But I gotta be at it ten, twelve hours a day. Other men- Idon’t know- they do it easier. A man oughta come in with a fewwords. One thing about Charley. He’s a man of few words, and theyrespect him.” (Miller, 1949, We see clearly how self awareness canaffect a person.

Theimportance of family relations is has also been stressed in the play.The author shows that no matter what a man goes through, the mostimportant thing to him should always be his family. An article byMamet from the New York Times says that at a certain point when hewas watching the play, it reminded him of the relationship that hehad with his own father (Mamet,2005). The main character in the playfeels that he should work hard so that he is able to provide a futurefor his family, especially his sons. At one time when he is lookingfor renting space from Howard in Act II, he says that,” In thosedays, there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect andcomradeship. Today it’s all cut and dried, and there is no chanceof bringing friendship..” (Miller, 1949, pg 59). Here, he islamenting on the lack of family and relations that ails the moderntimes.

Inthe second Act, we also see a case where Willy has got a good offerin Alaska but taking it would mean separating from his family(Welleck, 1982 pg 54). Linda is not happy about this and she says,”Don’t say those things to him! He has enough to be happy righthere!…” (Miller, 1949, pg 61). Once again through Linda’scharacter, the author is stressing the importance of family andrelations over all else.

Wecan therefore conclude and say that although it is a tragedy kind ofplay where the main character does not find solutions for hisproblems, the theme of self awareness and family relations are a mainconcern of the play.


Abbotson,S. C. W. (2003). Thematicguide to modern drama.Westport (Conn.: Greenwood press.

MametD.(2005). AttentionMust Be Paid.The New York Times. Web.

Miller,Arthur (1949) . ACTS I &amp II. Web.

MillerA.(1949). Tragedyand the Common Man.The New York Times. Web.

Wellek,R., &amp Warren, A. (1982). Theoryof literature.Harmondsworth [etc.: Penguin Books.