What picture of American society and family do you get in Death of a Salesman


The “Death of Salesman” (1949) has upheld American society and family. Arthur Miller (1915-2005) criticizes society’s ideas of the American Dream, the capitalist system, greed, the Lack of fidelity, and peer pressure.

What picture of American society and family do you get in Death of a Salesman

Dream of success

Miller criticizes the American dream in the play “Death of a Salesman” Willy is completely based on the American Dream. He is a full failure in his life. On the other side, Miller has upheld the success of Charley, Ben, and Bernard. Bernard and Charley do not bank on the American Dream. They are Realistic. Charley has become a successful businessman of his careful and chariness approach to life. Charley’s son Bernard has been a lawyer through hard labor. On the other side, Ben entered the ‘jungle’ when he was seventeen and he came out at twenty-one, and unexpectedly he was rich by the Grace of God. In Willy’s hallucination, Ben talks him like that:

“The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy.”

Thus, through the failure of Willy and the success of Charley and Ben, Miller shows that the American Dream is Illusionary and delusive.

Click here: For All Notes of Drama

Influence of illicit love

The dramatist has shown an illicit love affair in the drama. Biff was not a good student. Basically, he is weak in mathematics that is why he has been failed. Then, he goes to Boston to meet his father. There, he discovers the illicit love affair between his father and the Boston girl. On the other side, Biff and Happy have an illicit love affair with the Restaurant girl. So, the perversion of sex is acute in America.

Running after name, fame, and money

In “Death of a salesman”, Miller has shown the success of Charley, Bernard, Ben. Charley has become a successful man because of his careful and cautious approach to life and Bernard has been a well-respected lawyer through hard Labor. On the other side, we have seen that Ben is a successful businessman. he boasts that he entered the ‘jungle’ when he was seventeen and when he came out at twenty-one he was rich by the grace of God.

“When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich.”

Actually, Ben had achieved success in Africa. These characters symbolize the American Dream since they have been able to achieve name, fame, and wealth. Likewise, Willy Loman, Happy Loman, and Biff Loman wanted to succeed in their life. But it regrettable that the father and sons have failed. For the money, Willy Loman commits suicide by the name of the car accident because, after his death, his family will get twenty-thousand dollars from the insurance policy which will be much helpful for the family.  So, whatever the lifestyle is led by the characters of the play is based on the American Dream.

Acute suicidal tendency

Acute suicidal tendency is one of the pictures of American society. This is a baffling problem for the American people because they cannot tolerate pressure and failure. In the drama, Willy Loman and his elder son Biff are the paradigms of the suicidal tendency. He cannot fulfill the American Dream. He sacrifices his life because after his death his family will be paid 20000 dollars from the insurance company and it will be very helpful for his sons to start a new business. According to the present survey, this tendency has increased in America but here the playwright raises a question about the benefits of suicide. We see that Willy is wrong because his wife becomes the worst sufferer for his whimsical decision.

Presence of an ideal wife

The is universal that a woman has a tendency to be ideal for her husband. In the drama, Willy’s wife Linda Loman represents this unanimous trait. She is decent and dutiful to her husband and family. She supports her husband whatever the matter is. She always tries to protect Willy’s dreams and emotions. Her greatest weakness lies in her blind support for Willy. So, Miller has tried to scatter the message through the character of Linda that even a family can be happy having so many problems if there is a wife like Linda.

Imbalance relationship between father and son

The relationship between Willy and Happy is not much better because of Willy’s excessive love for Biff. Happy has always taken second place in his father’s affections. Thus, Willy constantly influences a detrimental effect on Happy’s relationship with the whole family. Regarding respect, Willy’s sons do not esteem him. Biff would love his father much but love and respect got vanished for an incident. He goes to Boston to meet his father. After reaching there, he discovers the illicit love affair of his father with a Boston Lady. Then, Biff thinks that his father has cheated with his mother. From that moment, Biff started to disrespect his father. Because of trying to preserve honesty and morality, the Americans destroy their relations.


 From the light of the above discussion, we can say that Miller successfully portrays both familial and social conflict in the play ” Death of a Salesman”. The play is a depressing one but a true reflection of American society.

Click here: for all notes of Death of a Salesman 

Biswazit Kumar
Biswazit Kumar
Articles: 64

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