Essay on Society Alienation on the Example of Literature

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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The theme of alienation is seen in the play Death of a Salesman. Each of the individuals in the Lowan family is seen to be battling a personal and lonely struggle. The play, chooses to portray prejudice against Willy Loman who is the protagonist of the play. The society, in this case, rejects judges and rejects Willy causing to be alienated in many aspects of his life. Failure to achieve ones dreams is the central point of passage in the play that also causes various conflicts and alienation. The Society is judgmental and can cause alienation.

Alienation can be seen in the association between the father Willy Loman and his sons. I cant throw myself on my sons. I am not a cripple! is a statement by Willy that shows his inescapable position with his sons (Miller, p.80). Willy did not get to be as successful as he would have wanted and thereby depends on his sons to be successful and goes on to encourage them into becoming salesmen. The elder son Biff realizes his life was a lie causing him to alienate from his family. Willy had an effect to Biff from an early age, and when Biff visited him and found he had an affair with another woman, he realized that what his father taught him was a lie. He, therefore, decides to move west where he fails in life. Willy can regularly be seen putting Biff down as he does not follow in his father footsteps in becoming a salesman. Biff is a man with his physical sense, self-centered and also tough. Wily tries to make his son complete the life he never got to live by becoming a salesman. However, this is not what Biff wanted as he says Will you let go, for Christs sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens? (Miller, p.133) This shows that Biff did not want to be dragged into his fathers dream which he resented. He wanted his dream and wished that his father could recognize that. Willy can be seen to struggle with his father's acceptance as he wanted his fathers acceptance for who he was instead of being forced in another mans dream. Willy can be considered as a provoker to Biffs failure in life where instead of encouraging his son to take on the career he chooses for himself and support him, he forces him to follow his path into the salesman business. Biffs mother Linda feels that Biff does not care for his father which she questions him about it. This shows an isolation of Biff to his mother where she thinks he does not care about his family. Happy is the youngest son where although he is successful in the business world he tends to be alienated from the society.

The most alienation action was Willy loss of his job in which he had worked on all his lifetime. This was the only trade he knew and was good at. At the time of conference with Howard, Willy had his hopes and confidence up as he was ready to take charge of his life at the very crucial time. However, this did not happen as Howard fired him stating that Willy needed some rest. Howard did not believe that Willy could perform like his old self as he had become aged which presented many problems. Howard did not want an elderly man representing the business causing him to fire Willy. Willy tends to also exclude himself from the society, He knows his capabilities and problems and thereby excludes himself socially. This is seen in the conversations he had with himself on the play where he feels he cannot converse with anyone else. Willy knows that he could do well in life as the man he should be, but he cannot find the right way of doing it. Willy wants to be the best salesman and father, but he continuously defeats himself in which causes his failure. His alienation can be symbolized to the garden he wished to grow in his backyard which is small and fenced and therefore unable to produce a fruitful garden. This can be seen to signify his relation in the business world in which it is constricted. Willy acts as his enemy by alienating himself which ultimately leads to the society unacceptance.

The irony is seen where Wily who is a failure advises his sons on how to be successful and get into the line of being salesmen as he is while he did not make it in the same field. Willy dies with his dream still intact Willy had hoped his funeral to be well attended which would mean he was an influential, successful man who turned out to be opposite of what his expectations were. Irony is also presented where Willy believed he had failed Biff by disillusioning him with the dream of success whereas he had failed him by not achieving his dream. There exists ambiguity in Willy's early life as a salesman as his version of the story points out to some former glory in which the author does not endorse (AQA, p. 1). Symbolism is used in the play in several instances, for instance, the tape recorder shows how Wily thinks that the people around him give attention to unnecessary things just like Howard gave attention to the tape recorder instead of Willy (Pujara, Pooja et al., p. 6). The car that Willy owns is also a Chevrolet which is a brand and signifies that Willy is chasing the dream of a better life. The West is also used as a place where there is a possibility of starting a new life which could be successful as used in the play. Biff sneakers represent the prospects of a bright future that he had and by burning them signifies that it could not be attainable (Pujara, Pooja et al., p.8).

By comparing the death of a salesman to the great Gatsby we can show that both protagonists had similar social ties and downfalls where they are caught up in the illusion of becoming successful but after a lifetime by relying on personality to achieve their dreams they end up alone and alienated even in their death (Hammoudeh, Aseel, p. 8). Willy believed that he had made his name as a salesman and lives with delusions of being successful and has the same prospects for his sons which lead him to commit suicide. Gatsby is wealthy however no one knew where he came from or how he achieved his wealth making him less known (Hammoudeh, Aseel, p. 12). Contrast arises where Willy is seen as a loser by his people while Gatsby is revered by most individuals around him.


Works cited

AQA,. "Aspects Of Tragedy: Text Overview - Death Of A Salesman". 2017,

Hammoudeh, Aseel. "Comparative Between Death Of A Salesman". Academia.Edu, 2017,

Miller, Arthur, and Gerald Clifford Weales. Death Of A Salesman. 1st ed., New York, Penguin Books, 1996,.Pujara, Pooja et al. "Death Of A Salesman-Group 4 Symbolism, Imagery, Irony, Questions 3 &4, Happy And Bernard Characterization Archetypal/Psychological Analysis". 2017,


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