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Death of a Salesman & Timebends Essay Sample

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Death of a Salesman & Timebends Essay Sample

All great things are sources of inspiration. Political activism is derived from admired concepts such as democracy and liberty. Innovation comes from bright, ambitious minds. However, surely, everyone can agree that life is the greatest thing there is. Cultures from all over the world showcase how people cherish life. What better way is there to appreciate life than by elaborating the complexity of its mysteries, the most unique thing about it, in a way that leaves a mark of your life’s existence in the process? Arthur Miller gives a fantastic example in his play, Death of a Salesman. The parallels between this work of his and his life as explained through his autobiography, Timebends, are truly remarkable. There are clear connections visible between both Arthur Miller’s autobiography, Timebends, and his play, Death of a Salesman, such as the strive for manliness, the advances of competitiveness, and the significance of opportunity and initiative.

Manliness is a theme that plays a very important role. Biff and Happy exhibit this trait through their sheer physical fitness. Biff’s star football athleticism further prove this point. Ideally, Biff’s desire for work would be a place more suited for his outward expression manliness such as the ranch in Texas that he was working at before coming to see his parents again. Ben’s voyages to Africa to get diamonds show off both his strength, since it’s in the jungles of Africa, and his wealth, another feature of manliness. Willy chooses not to disrespect his family honor by asking his sons for money, as he feels that he is the head of the household since he is a man. This is all comparable to Miller’s desire to be a carpenter and a mechanic, a very manly occupation. Sports were a great way that the men had a chance to show off their manliness. Miller states that he was fanatic about sports, but is not comparable to the Newmans’ sons.

Competitiveness elaborates upon the theme of manliness since it intrinsically is a part of the alpha-male persona. This is seen in the play when Ben tries to box with Biff as a sort of makeshift rite of passage. Happy has this internal feud with his coworkers and bosses, who he felt like he could manhandle them, as though to speak of them as puny impedances. Similarly, Miller comments on the card games that used to go down at the garage parties. Manny promotes the institution of competition since he always used to lie about having a shovel in his garage, which Miller interprets as a sort of scornful, condescending act. Basically, he had a tone of voice that symbolized a sense of absolute ownership and that others must go out into the wilderness to get their own. There is a bit of irony too, since both are centered around salesmen, who are fundamental to a capitalist economic system, the epitome of competitiveness.

Opportunity and initiative are common elements that adequately conveys the general idea of a series of events. Either initiative was either taken or it was missing. Willy feels like he missed out on a great opportunity, a chance to take initiative, by going to Alaska or Africa with Ben. Biff and Happy consider embarking on new enterprises like The Loman Brothers ranch and a sporting goods store. Likewise, 14/15-year-old Arthur Miller saved up a to buy some lumber with his savings from a bread delivery job. Miller again took initiative when he began to make a porch using hammers from people in the neighborhood like Lee Balsam.

Death of a Salesman elucidates the evolution of life and the celebration of life along with it by featuring the ability of a common man to be a tragic hero. Similarly, Miller characterizes carpenters and salesmen as “common heroes.” Through this sense, it is understandable how it can come from there to make that logic. These admired occupations show the manly nature of the work, the inherent competitiveness in the market, and the carpe-diem-style attitude, all of which greatly affected the play, Death of a Salesman.

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