Death of a Salesman Structure Metaphoric Language Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 1575 words and 7 pages.

Death of a Salesman Structure Metaphoric Language and Theme

In looking at the characteristics of the tragic hero, it can be see that Willy Loman is
not a tragic hero but a victim of a false idealistic pursuit of the “American Dream”.
Willy strives to become and instill in his sons the success of the self made man that
American society often advertises but ultimately falls short, and instead, escapes
accepting his failure through lies and death. What many flaws Willy possesses, most do not
correlate with the classic tragic hero.

Willy Loman, was never really of noble stature, as was summed up by Linda, the person who
knew him best. “ Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper.
He’s not the finest character that ever lived.” Willy’s harmartia was his obsession with
the false American Dream that caused him to become delusional and totally blind of his
actual situation. If this is so, then he cannot he commit a true and calculated error of
judgment and then his downfall is due to an overriding irrepressible mental condition
which cancels his own fault in his downfall. His delusional state of mind blurs reality
and causes him to never accept or understand who he is or his downfall erasing any notion
that he experienced an epiphany of any sort. In fact, it can be said that he dragged one
of his sons with him. In front of Willy’s grave Happy vows to continue Willy’s dream. “ He
had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have- to come out the number-one man. He
fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him.”

Willy Loman is an example of the middle class man caught as a victim of society where the
odds are against him, a “has-been”. As a victim he unwillingly suppressed himself and his
family in a web of lies and false pride. Although he never discovered his own ignorance
and in the process took someone else, his death opened the window for Biff to see the real
Willy. “He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong.” He then describes Willy to the point.
“ He never knew who he was.”

The metaphoric language used in the play is used mainly to advance its theme of idealism
versus reality. The metaphors illustrate the play’s portrayal of economic struggle and
family instability. Furthermore, they can be classified “what if” metaphors and “what is”

A “what if” metaphor addresses the idealistic lives of the Lomans. Dreams are constantly
brought up by Biff who uses them to bring light to the fictitious and “dreamy” lives the
family is living. When talking to Willy Biff says, “We’ve been talking in a dream for
fifteen years.” and later pleads with him to accept reality. “ Will you take that phony
dream and burn it before something happens?” Seeds are associated with Willy’s desire to
create something, especially out of youth (Biff and Happy) and he often comments on
planting them. Willy contemplates planting beet seeds in the garden. “Maybe beets would
grow out there.” This creates an insightful response from Linda. “But you tried so many
times.” The seeds are representative of Willy’s desire to grow his family into something;
Linda’s remark paints the fact that he has failed. Right before his suicide, which brought
the family much needed money, Willy goes out to the backyard and begins to plant a garden.

A “what is” metaphor is exactly what it is, reality. The stockings represent Willy’s
unfaithfulness to his wife and the torment that it brings him to know that. Willy snaps
sharply at Linda when he sees her mending her stockings. “I won’t have you mending
stockings in this house! Now throw them out!” The sight of the stockings brings back
memories of when Biff caught him cheating on his wife and found out that Willy gave his
mistress the expensive stockings he was supposed to give Linda as a gift. The stockings
then act as a symbol of Willy as a bad father and husband. The name Loman or “Low-Man” is
metaphoric in that it describes and isolates the family at a low level social class.

The metaphoric language helps to distinguish the line between reality and idealism, which
is so often distorted. It lets the reader gain a better understanding of the family’s
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