Alaska, Africa, American West
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
(Click the symbolism infographic to download.)
Death of a Salesman takes place primarily within the confined landscape of the Lomans’ home. This narrow, and increasingly narrowing, setting is contrasted with the vastness of the American West, Alaska, and Africa. If the Lomans’ home symbolizes restriction, both physical and mental, distant locations symbolize escape, freedom, and the possibility of something better. While Willy insists New York is a land of opportunity and abundant success, his idolization of his brother Ben’s adventures and forays into faraway lands shows that he is really not so convinced. Furthermore, Biff, Happy, and Ben repeatedly suggest that the Lomans are better suited to physical, hands-on kinds of work, an assertion supported by their failure as salesmen. Willy’s obsession with distant lands further proves that he might prefer a very different livelihood than the one he has.