[Marxism] Death of a Salesman

guava tree theguavatree at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 14:39:20 MDT 2012

I find that by painting Loman as abrasive and disagreeable while he
goes about reciting the cant of "being liked" is what makes the
tragedy so complete-- He can't practice what he preaches-- of course
this is a political problem because his values are the values he has
seen as embodying "success" -- BUT the process of the play is not to
show us a Happy, Successful, Cheerful Business man who is then fired
because he can't cut it-- It shows us that he has a flaw, which is to
fail to embody or even attempt to embody the superficial values he
espouses: Being liked, being popular, having lots of buddies and
friends and contacts, being able to drive into any city and sell lots
of stuff cause you know everyone and everyone likes you-- He can't do
that, but he think he should so he lies to himself that he actually is
a success, then pushes this dream off onto his sons, who can't cope
and retreat into petty crime and womanizing. It's precisely this twist
of the specificity of Willy's personality that makes it a tragedy I
think, and makes it richer than a proletarian novel that mostly just
tells us what we already know.

I used to believe that the play was more about the system that crushes
him, but in almost every scene you watch Loman alienate another
character, refuse to listen, refuse to take a job from his next-door
neighbor after he is fired, talk over characters trying to tell him
the truth, crush the soul of his sons. He is completely out of touch
with his emotions. He is seriously deluded and there is plenty of
evidence that this is something at least partially unique to him as a
man--the system hasn't really made him this way-- We meet his brother
in a hallucination, who is a crazy man who has gone to Africa to mine
for diamonds-- Their father hawked flutes-- This is a family of wild
dreamers looking to hit it big.

I think this makes for an excellent masterpiece of a play and I also
think that the non-representation of "workers" is also a masterstroke;
as I wrote, we are in Loman's head: there is no downward mobility, he
is only going up. But by giving him such a strong personality the play
loses that political edge which is definitely there, but less so than
I originally thought.

Hopefully I'm being clear-- in short I think Willy's behavior makes it
an interesting tragedy, as opposed to a sentimental work, which would
have a likable salesman fired by a boss because he's too old.

On Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM, Andrew Pollack <acpollack2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ======================================================================
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
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> I think guavatree misses the point of the play.


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