Realizing Failure: Death Of A Salesman

1191 words - 5 pages

In the tragic American play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. Willy Loman, the protagonist, is a salesman who is becoming more elderly and tired. He has been in the same position at his company for 30 years and has now been reassigned to a traveling job with only the pay of commission, not salary. He is struggling financially and the traveling from Brooklyn to New England is taking a toll on him at his old age. His wife, Linda, asks him to ask for an increase in pay or a desk job so he does not have to travel at his old age. When Willy asks his boss Howard for a salary and a desk job Howard, his boss (who was once the son of Willy’s old boss), Howard says there is not spot for Willy at a desk job and that “business is business”. Willy, in an effort to persuade Howard, begins telling a story about David Singleman, the salesman who inspired Willy to go into the career of sales and is idolized by Willy because he was well known. Willy’s growing desperation in begging his boss for a desk job gives the passage a mood of some urgency, yet, in the passage, Willy maintains his calm as he tries to persuade Howard into helping him.
WILLY: And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ‘Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? Do you know? when he died— and by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of New York, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston— when he died, hundreds of salesman and buyers were at his funeral. Things were sad on a lotta trains for months after that. [He stand up, HOWARD has not looked at him] In those days, there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect, and comradeship and gratitude in it. Today it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for bringing friendship to bear— or personality. You see what I mean? They don’t know me anymore. (Miller 61)
The entire passage is a representative of Willy’s realization that his career, life, and family have all amounted to nothing. Willy is often delusional and refuses to accept the negative aspects of his life, however, in this passage; we see that Willy is aware of his failure in the business world. The beginning of the passage is reminiscent of a great past and has a hopeful tone. Willy begins by idolizing the career of selling and David Singleman as well as the glory that was being a salesman. He uses long run-on sentences and lists to demonstrate the extent of David Singleman’s success in the business world and the grandeur of being a salesman. This is contrasted with the tone at the end of the passage, which shows growing depression and harshness as Willy comes to realize that he has worked his whole life as a salesman and he has nothing to show for it. The phrase “They don’t know me anymore” is the...

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