Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
A play in which the title is significant but not obviously so is “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. In “Death of a Salesman” Miller explores the capitalism of 1940s America and how the American Dream does not benefit everyone in the business world. Willy Loman, the main character in the play, became a salesman after the death of another elderly salesman who could make money without leaving his hotel room. It was this salesman and how well liked he was that inspired Willy to become a salesman as he wanted to be well liked as Dave Singleman.
Willy mentions on multiple occasions how well liked he was and that at his own funeral he wanted many people to be present as they had been at Dave Singleman’s funeral “When he died, hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. ” Like Dave Singleman Willy wanted people to come from all over the country to mourn him this sympathy towards him as this is a highly unlikely situation and he therefore is setting himself and his family into a deluded scene that will never be witnessed.
Willy also wants to die the honourable death, which he now associates with being a salesman as he idolises Dave Singleman “He died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers… ” However at the conclusion of the play it is clear that Willy Loman did not die the honourable death he so desired as no one from the business world arrived at his funeral only his wife, two sons, Charley and Bernard were present which also demonstrates how deluded Willy was in the life he led as he honestly believed his funeral would be of a similar scale to Dave Singleman’s.
This evokes sympathy towards Willy as he did not die his ideal death of a salesman and seems to live by measuring how successful people are by the size of their funeral and therefore his own funeral reflects truly how unsuccessful his career as a salesman was. In “Death of a Salesman” Willy suffers a metaphorical death, the death of his dream of financial success.
By the plays conclusion Willy is jobless and broke. Willy has a conversation with his brother Ben, who has been dead for some time, and concludes the best future for his family, especially Biff whom Willy is desperate to become successful, would be for him to kill himself as the insurance company would pay out $20, 000, enough to make Biff successful in Willy’s mind, “you end up worth more dead than alive.
The irony of Willy killing himself is that he is killing himself to give Biff money in order for him to become a successful business man however the insurance company will not make a payout for suicide and Biff has no intention of following in his father’s footsteps. This evokes sympathy for Willy as he is trying to do the best for his family however he still cannot provide for them even through his death. During the play “Death of a Salesman” the title is significant as there is a physical death of a salesman in the respect that Willy dies and he is a salesman.
Through killing himself Willy hopes to provide the financial support, which he has been failing to gain for many years, for his family that is required. The death of Willy is not honourable as he desires and is sorry ending to his unsuccessful life in business. In conclusion the title of the play is significant as it in further understanding of the events, which occur in the play. Miller uses the title to convey both a physical and metaphorical death and in order for the reader to understand the ending to their full capability.