Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Who Is to Blame for Willy Loman's Death? - on Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman/QUI EST A BLAMER POUR LA MORT DE WILLY LOMAN ? - DE MORT D'UN COMMIS VOYAGEUR

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Who Is to Blame for Willy Loman's Death? - on Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman/QUI EST A BLAMER POUR LA MORT DE WILLY LOMAN ? - DE MORT D'UN COMMIS VOYAGEUR

Article excerpt


In 1949 Arthur Miller was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Death of a Salesman. This play presents the last twenty-four hours in the life of Willy Loman, a traveling salesman aged sixty-three. Willy Loman lives a tragic life. He is a failure as a father, a husband and a worker. At last, he commits suicide. The present paper starts with making a summary of the plot and presenting the value of the study on Willy Loman' death. Then, it discusses some social factors in Willy Loman's death, such as the influence of the American Dream and the Great Depression. It also makes a detailed study on the flaws in the character of Willy Loman, some of which contribute to his own death. The paper aims at a further study on Willy Loman's death and attempts to put forward the author's view on various causes of his death.

Key words: social tragedy, personal tragedy, the American Dream, flows

Résumé: En 1949 Arthur Miller a été attribué le Prix Pulitzer pour sa Mort d'un commis voyageur. Cette pièce présente les dernières 24 heures de la vie de Willy Loman, un commis voyageur âgé de 63 ans. Willy Loman a connu une vie tragique. Il est une défaite en tant que père, époux et employé. Finalement, il se suicide. L'article présent commence par le résumé de l'histoire et la présentation de la valeur d'étude de la mort de Willy Loman. Ensuite, il traite des facteurs sociaux de sa mort, tels que les influences du Rêve américain et de la Grande Dépression. Il fait aussi une étude détaillée des défauts de caractère de Willy Loman dont certains contribuent à sa mort. L'article vise à une recherche approfondie sur la mort du héros et tente d'avancer l'opinion de l'auteur sur les causes variées de sa mort.

Mots-Clés: tragédie sociale, tragédie personnelle, Rêve américain, défauts


Arthur Miller is regarded as one of the most celebrated American dramatists in the twentieth century. Death of a Salesman is probably his most popular play, which won the Pulitzer Prize for the best play of 1949.

Death of a Salesman is a deceptively simple play. It only contains two acts and a requiem. Its plot revolves around the last twenty-four hours in the life of Willy Loman.

Willy Loman is a traveling salesman aged sixty-three. He has worked for the Wagner firm for thirty-four years, unsuccessful and being about to lose this job. At the very beginning of the play, he comes back home and is tired to death. Linda, his wife, loves him and even admires him. She is the only person who understands Willy and tries her best to help him. But what she does is of no avail. Willy is still unhappy. He often goes back to the happier past in the year of 1928. At that time, his son Biff is a football star in high school with several scholarships. Willy himself has the most beautiful yearning for future success. But for the last fourteen years, Biff has been unable to find a satisfied job and Willy has been taken off salary. Everything goes worse. Willy is in a trance. Happy, the other son of Willy, suggests that they ask for a loan to begin a business of their own. This idea makes everybody feel encouraged. They go to sleep with hopes. But the following day, when Willy and his sons meet in the restaurant, both of them bring bad news. Willy is fired and Biff does not succeed in borrowing money. Realizing his responsibility for Biff's aimlessness and disillusionment, Willy has a hallucinatory talk with his brother Ben and decides on suicide to provide Biff with insurance money.

On Willy Loman's death, there are various interpretations. Some consider him as the victim of the American Dream, while some believe that he himself is responsible for his downfall, and there are also a few scholars reaching a conclusion that Willy Loman's death is a personal tragedy as well as a social tragedy.

The present paper attempts to study Will Loman's death and make a detailed analysis of the causes of his death on both the social and personal levels. …

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