Symbols In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

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In his play, “Death of a Salesman”, Arthur Miller utilizes many symbols to illustrate the themes of success and failure. In many instances throughout “Death of a Salesman” Willy’s late older brother, Ben, appears to him in times of despair. Other symbols presented to the readers is Willy’s desperate attempt at planting a garden at the end of the play, and the tape recorder. These symbols represent Willy’s final attempts to be successful and the failure he cannot escape. As a young man, Ben set out on a journey to Alaska in hopes of finding his father. Later, he finds himself in Africa and returns home at the age of twenty-one, rich, after discovering a diamond mine in the jungle. Although Ben symbolizes the success and wealth Willy has always …show more content…
Willy is an old fashioned man who made no attempt to change or evolve. He cannot even figure out how to turn off the tape recorder. When left alone with the tape recorder he panics, yelling for Howard, Willy leaps away with fright shouting “Ha! Howard! Howard! Howard!” Not only is Willy afraid of new technology, but he also believes that the old ways are the best. Even when it becomes obvious to everyone else that his outdated sales tactics are no longer working, he still believes in them. Once again, Willy’s inability to change with time results in him being unsuccessful and unhappy. Near the end of this reading Willy makes a desperate attempt at planting a garden, this signifies his realization of the fact that he has nothing to leave Happy and Biff (his sons) once he dies. After communicating that nothing is planted and that he has “nothing in the ground” it becomes clear to audience that finding seeds is an opportunity for Willy to prove the worth pf his hard work as both, a dedicated father and a …show more content…
Ben, diamonds, the tape recorder, and the seeds all give him reason to end his life for the well being of his family. Willy aspires to be like Ben, so he believes that if he does what his brother asks of him, that he too will be successful which has always been Willy’s dream. Diamonds, to Willy, had always seemed impossible to obtain until his brother tells him he can reach them if he follows him into the “jungle”. Willy is unable to adapt to the changes of society, for instance the tape recorder. It is a new innovative piece of technology, and instead of figuring out how to use it Willy freaks out. It only shows how incapable he is to adapt to time. The seeds, although are and opportunity for Willy to fix part of his family’s problem, allow him to understand that the only thing he has left to give his sons is his own worth, that of which he can only give if he is deceased. In conclusion, “Death of a Salesman” addresses loss of identity and a man’s inability to accept change within himself and society. Therefore, the audience is able to watch a man’s identity and mental stability slip away. All symbols result in death but Willy, at all costs, will fulfill his

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