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Death of a Salesman The purpose of this brief essay is to examine Arthur Millers play Death of a Salesman with respect to its reflection of the impact of American values and mores as to what constitutes success upon individual lives George Perkins has stated that this play has been described as possibly the best play ever written by an American Perkins p 710 The play marks a brilliant fusion of the ideas and problems central to Millers artistic and creative life among those problems are the relationship of selfishness to altruism and the need to define an achievable code of morality for oneself Perkins p 710 Willy Loman the dominant central character of the play has defined morality in terms of his capacity to provide financially for his family Frederick Karl p 329 states that Willy Loman is an outgrowth of a Depression ambiance which suggests that he defines success with respect to income retaining a job and fiscal security all elements of mans work that literally disappeared overnight during the Great Depression Loman is a commercial cowboy whose travels are days and weeks spent out on the range in pursuit of one more big sale Arthur Miller himself argued that Lomans situation - that of the formerly successful and now unemployed salesman unable to find a reason for continued life - was so general a quality of American life that he Willy was victimized by our being what we are Karl p 330 According to Perkins p 710 Willy Lomans fatal flaw has been variously interpreted as a pitiable blindness to the realities of the American Dream as the unrealistic hope of a doting father for his sons advancement to levels he himself never achieve and the bad luck of a salesman working a tough territory Each interpretation has a certain degree of validity Taken together they reflect a critical perception of Willy Lomans life and concerns as typical of a
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