Unveiling Symbolism and Themes in “Death of a Salesman”
There are many important points in this play. One point is that Willy’s home “work” was a symbol of his strong desire to achieve a goal because he had this strong desire to become a successful businessman, but his house structures showed his real desire.
Willy’s Home as a Symbol of Desires and Realities
At present, their house is closed in by apartment units and building structures. Instead of following a dream he could have never achieved, he could have been a successful builder. Another point is that when Biff steals the pen, it functions in the play because when he’s holding the pen, he realizes, “What is he doing?” and “Why is he doing something he doesn’t want to do?”. He looks up and sees the sky when he’s still in the office. Biff wants to make up with his dad to ensure that he doesn’t want to follow Willy’s dream and follow his own dream of living on a ranch. Charley’s statement, “He doesn’t have to—he’s gonna do it,” is central to the theme of the play because, unlike Willy, Charley trusts that his son can do it and he doesn’t have to tell him what to do or how to do it. Willy always tells Biff what to do the way he wants to do it. An argument when Biff is the protagonist of the play is that, when Biff was in high school, he always supported his dad, and he wanted to make his dad proud until he found out that his dad was having an affair.
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The Weight of Guilt and Betrayal
When he is in his mid-thirties, he’s an unsuccessful businessman, and Willy gets frustrated and goes crazy. When Biff tries to go to his old boss, he realizes Something when he’s holding a pen that he stole from the office. He realizes that he is living a lie and he doesn’t want to follow his dad’s dreams but his own. The seeds are a symbol of the play because they show that since Willy didn’t do anything successful in his life, he wants to show that he grew the seeds as Something successful. Willy refuses Charley’s job offer even though he is accepting his “loans” because Willy has too much pride, and he doesn’t want anyone to think that he is hopeless and needs help. The meaning of Linda saying “were free…”, the last words of the play, was that they “were free” from Willy’s “memories” or “thoughts,” and Linda apologizes for refusing to cry and intends that Willy is “another trip.”
The underlying meaning was that the insurance money that Willy “gave” to Biff was not fulfilled, so he went on “another trip” to fulfill it. The stockings are a symbol of the play because he had an affair with another woman, and he gave her brand new stockings, but Willy yells at Linda for fixing her old stockings and says not to fix them. He feels guilty for betraying her and Biff. These are all the important points that happened in Death of a Salesman.
- “Death of a Salesman (Penguin Modern Classics)” by Arthur Miller
- “CliffsNotes on Miller’s Death of a Salesman” by Jennifer L. Scheidt
- “Death of a Salesman: Text and Criticism” by Arthur Miller and Gerald Weales