Death of a Salesman.docx - Death of a Salesman Problem...

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Death of a Salesman Problem plays versus melodrama Problem o Deploys elements of melodrama (good vs bad) by posing as a problem audience capacity to determine o In All My Sons, Miller asks audience to decide attitude of Joe and Chris Keller and George and Ann Deever and Kate and Larry o Audience must come up with moral code to enable audience to resolve problem presented o Stage offers audience to arrive at moral decision and to feel that moral choice has been offered up by an event o Joe dies as restricted vision of family values, experienced not as the death of a wrong criminal man but rather as the suicide of man who has felt the difference between the moral code that allowed him to achieve everything in his life and the truth of his code (demonstrated by willingness to die in the name of the code) o Moment when Joe states that Larry would have understood and that the wrong son died but then gets letter from Larry who stated that he would kill his father (executes Larry’s wishes) o Tragedy has tragic hero presented with not just a single moral code but identification with yes and no of the culture o Tragedy was stable among Greeks because tragedies were staged at specific cusp of seasonal cycle (winter to spring) o Tragic figure holds onto short circuited dialect of the culture that keeps the culture running in place o When figure dies tragically, tragedy goes to spring with the death Death of a Salesman Wanted to take possibility that the most ordinary human can achieve the greatest heights in the culture (in Willie Loman) Willie was worthy of treatment by audience not as a loser but as a figure who embodied greatest aspect of American culture (capacity to dream) Melodrama and Tragedy o Death of a Salesman differs from All My Sons in the way tragedy differs from melodrama. We desire a melodramatic conclusion because it returns us to our world with a sense that its contradictions have been resolved o A tragic figure embodies the irresolvable antagonisms of the culture. Willie Loman lives the contradictions inherent in American culture—the conflicting demands of love and success Love and Power o Judged according to the prevailing criteria of success in the world of business, Willie is a loser o Miller wants to persuade the theater audiences that Willie is something like a king o How can Miller take a fiure as abject as Willie Loman and sustain our belief that his fate is tragic? Willie Loman o In business, you must succeed to be loved o Willie believes the reverse: Willy tells his sons that if they are well liked, every door will open to them o Willie can’t live this belief, but Biff can o Feeling well-liked by Biff makes Willie feel like a success o

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