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My Essay

This is a report on a book I read. I feel this shows some of my strong points:

The Irony in Death of a Salesman 3-15-02

Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, tells the story of Willy Loman, a salesman who wanted others to love and respect him. His life is filled with many ironic moments that alter Willyís wish for a happy life and lead to his tragic death by suicide. Willy Loman, at the age of 12, witnessed an eighty four-year-old man, Dave Singleman, selling a household product over the telephone. Shortly thereafter, this hero to Willy died and Willy found out that hundreds of other salesman and buyers attended the manís funeral. The image of so many people attending Singleman's funeral impressed Willy so much that he was forever changed. Willy vowed that when he himself grew up, he too would become a salesman. How ironic then, that with such a well thought out plan, Willy never found the love, adoration and respect that he saw others had for the elderly man. How was he to know that in just a few short years, salesmen, like the elderly gentleman he admired, would become obsolete in Willyís world?

Willy married and had two sons, Biff and Hap who were 34 and 32 years old in the play. Willy always hoped that his sons would grow up and respect him the way he had respected the elderly salesman. Willy had the highest of hopes for Biff, the most athletic of his sons. During one overnight business trip, Biff traveled to his dadís hotel to talk to him about school and some important choices he needed to make. Biff was supposed to be going off to college but there was a problem. Biff was never supposed to see his father give a pair of his motherís stockings to a strange woman in his fatherís hotel room. Biff was dismayed to discover his father having an affair and this altered his feelings for his father and he lost all respect for him, the very thing Willy craved most in the world. In the end, Biff never furthered his education and floated from job to job never becoming the success his father envisioned. The irony here is that Willyís actions himself led to his sonís failures.

Willy thought that if he were a good enough salesman, he would automatically earn the respect of his family, friends and customers. Willyís early career was marked by financial success but as the years went on, his type of salesperson was being phased out by his company. The ultimate insult came when Howard, the son of his former boss who took over the company, fired Willy. Willy was shocked and commented that he himself had named Howard as a newborn. As if this alone could earn Howardís respect! The irony here is that someone Willy had known all his life had been the one to step into the position that Willy had worked so hard to support and became the very person who actually controlled Willyís life and future. Willy was never in charge of his own life because he never took charge. He let others around him make decisions for him and he made bad decisions of his own that could not be fixed. Willy grew up with his best and only friend, Charley. Like David Singleman, Charley is exactly the kind of man Willy wished he could be like. Charley had a successful law practice and was respected by the community. Charley had a son who unlike Willyís own two sons, became a successful businessman, husband and father. Itís ironic that Willy could have such an important person in his life that has all the attributes that Willy dreams of but he canít have them himself.

The ďlow man on the totem poleĒ is the least respected in all walks of life. Itís the freshman boy in high school: the older kids seem to love to pick on them. Itís the awkward kid in p.e. class: the athletic ones choose him last for team sports. Itís the new guy hired in an office: heís the one who has to run the lousy errands and seems all but invisible to his co-workers because he hasnít proven himself worthy of notice. Willyís last name, Loman, is ironic in that way. He aspired to have people love and respect him. He wanted to be the best father and the best salesman in the world. But his life was filled with people who didnít care about him. His son Biff lost respect for him after Willyís affair. His customers never really cared about him, he was just a way for them to get the products they needed. His boss told him he wasnít necessary anymore.

Willyís death is the ultimate irony. Biff broke down and cried in Willyís lap and confessed that he was never going to be a great success, he was just an ordinary guy. He wanted Willy to know he was going to go out and make his way in the world. Biff truly wanted his dadís understanding and acknowledgement, which meant that he did have respect for Willy. Willy finally had a bit of what he had longed for all his life. The irony here is that when Willy got his wish, he decided to kill himself. He could have used this to build on and change his life but he didnít. He chose to end his life as though this was the pinnacle of his success and there was nothing left to gain.



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