Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Theme of Success
Throughout Death of a Salesman, Willy pursues concrete evidence of his worth and success. He is entranced by the very physical, tangible results of Ben’s diamond-mining efforts and strives to validate his own life by imagining similar material signifiers of success. Willy projects his own obsession with material achievement onto his sons, who struggle with a conflict between their intangible needs and the pressure to succeed materially. Let's just hope they have better luck than their parents at figuring it all out.
Questions About Success
- To what extent is tangible wealth essential to Willy? To Happy? Biff? Linda? Charley and Bernard?
- How is the possession of tangible wealth linked to the concept of freedom and escape in Death of a Salesman?
Chew on This
Willy’s obsession with obtaining concrete evidence of success distracts him from recognizing the important intangibles in his life, particularly the love of his family members.