Finding Freedom Amidst Oppression: Show How Characters Change or Escape Within Their Sanctuaries

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Vanderbilt University
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The term freedom characterizes the power or the right of an individual to think, speak or express himself, without any form of hindrance. Since the onset of human civilization, the freedoms offered to people have greatly evolved and protected under sovereign documents such as the constitutions. Moreover, the concept of freedom has also been expressed in various literary publications that have been developed over the years. Finding freedom amidst oppression is a fundamental goal for all humanity, even in the ancient times - as it can be evidenced through the character analysis in the Death of a Salesman, Dead Poets Society, and of Mice and Men.

Death of a Salesman

This is one of the publications where the need for freedom in the face of oppression has been evidenced. In the text, such a need for freedom has been illustrated through the statements made by Linda and Willy, who are characters in the text. For instance, Linda said, We shouldve bought the land next door. Willy responded, The street is lined with cars. Theres not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. The grass doesnt grow anymore; you cant raise a carrot in the backyard. They shouldve had a law against apartment houses. Remember those two beautiful elm trees out there? When I and Biff hung the swing between them? (Miller 1).

After Willys statements, Linda replied, Yeah, like being a million miles from the city. (Miller 1). In the three quotes, Linda and Willy show their willingness to escape from their existing urban neighborhood. The quotes portray how they longed for the days when the same neighborhood was more green, serene and beautiful. Additionally, in this case, the two characters attempted to illustrate how urbanization and commercialism could be associated with the concept of confinement. This is because the two aspects of modernity posed new rules and restrictions, where both Linda and Willy felt trapped and unable to change their circumstances.

Another depiction of the need for freedom under the perceived instance of oppression can also be portrayed by the characters Biff and Happy in the publication Death of a Salesman. In the literary work, Biff stated [with enthusiasm]: Listen, why dont you come out West with me? Happy responded, You and I, heh? Biff replied, Sure, maybe we could buy a ranch. Raise cattle, use our muscles. Men built like we should be working out in the open. (Miller 1). From this dialogue, Happy and Biff are fantasizing about securing an escape from the urban life as well as their lives in the business world.

According to them, the world of performing manual labor would be welcome to them from the fast-paced and competitive life of the city. This illustrates that they feel trapped and oppressed by the hard life of the city, and they long to have some form of freedom by working in a different geographical setting. Moreover, it is evident that according to them, they would feel more contented if they would secure a job working on a farm as casual laborers. That is if they would at least secure some form of freedom that is different from the pressured life of working in the city.

Dead Poets Society

This is another literary work where the need to escape oppression through the attainment of freedom has been evidenced. This instance can be portrayed through the dialogues of some of the characters in the plot of the composition, such as Neil Perry and John Keating. For example, in one instance, Neil Perry stated that For the first time in my whole life, I know what I wanna do! And for the first time, I'm gonna do it! Whether my father wants me to or not! Carpe diem! (Weir et al. 16).

In this quote, Neils enthusiasm to become an actor portrays the passion and enthusiasm inside him as well as the influence of professor Keating to bring Neils excitement to the surface. However, it also illustrates the need for escape that Neil has from his fathers strictness who does not want him to take up acting. This is because Neils father views acting to be an inferior profession. Instead, he would prefer his son to focus more time on other learning subjects that have traditionally been considered as foundations for major professions.

Moreover, in a different section of the literary work, Neil states that I just talked to my father. He wants me to quit the play at Henley Hall. Actings everything to me. I-but he doesnt know. Since it shows how he cant do what he feels because of the boundaries set by his father. (Weir et al. 18). This section also portrays Neils need to escape his fathers oppression, whereby the father has denied him to choose his preferred subject. Ultimately, from these aspects, the efforts made by Neil to convince his father to permit him to make his decision are futile.

Of Mice and Men

Furthermore, this publication also portrays the need to secure freedom in the face of oppression. This instance has been portrayed through various characters such as George and Lennie. For example, in one instance, Lennie asks George, "Georgewhy ain't we going on to the ranch and get some supper? They got supper at the ranch." George rolls on his side and replies. "No reason at all for you. I like it here. Tomorrow we're gonna go to work. I see thrashing machines on the way down. That means we'll be bucking grain bags, busting a gut. Tonight I'm gonna lay right here and look up. I like it." (Steinbeck 60-61).

In this dialogue, it is evident that the two characters feel the need to escape their current state of life by securing freedom to make their own choices on what to do. Furthermore, from the dialogue, George views lying in the garden relaxing and watching stars with his friend to be a good way of escaping the normal routine of hard labor at the ranch. Also, in another section of the publication, George says, "I wish I could put you in a cage with about a million mice an' let you have fun." His anger left him suddenly. He looked across the fire at Lennie's anguished face, and then he looked ashamedly at the flames. (Steinbeck 89).

In this quote, George implies that he would enjoy locking Lennie up with a million mice as pets. This is so that Lennie could understand the true meaning of confinement. In this case, George wants Lennie to understand their confined situation in order to appeal to him to find a way to escape their unfavorable state. In another section of the publication, Lennie, and George state that "And it'd be our own, an' nobody could can us. If we don't like a guy we can say, 'Get the hell out,' and by God, he's got to do it. An' if a fren' come along, why we'd have an extra bunk, an' we'd say, 'Why don't you spen' the night? An' by God he would." (Steinbeck 209).

This dialogue portrays the need for Lennie and George to secure their freedom through getting employed in a dream farm. In such a farm, they could make decisions on their own, on which of their friends they would like to invite. This need for freedom is also supported in another section of the publication where Slim a character nodded and stated, "We might," "If we could keep Curley in, we might, But Curley's gonna want to shoot 'im. Curley's still mad about his hand. An' s'pose they lock him up an' strap him down and put him in a cage. That ain't no good, George." (Steinbeck 97). This dialogue also shows that Lennie and the other farmhands do not like being trapped on the farm. In this context, they appear to have a longing for some form of freedom away from the oppressive condition of the farm.

Article 1 Critical Article

Failure of the American dream is the crucial theme of Death of a Salesman. (Miller 1). This quote was authored by Arthur Miller (2005) in an online publication. The quote can be used to further the thesis of this publication that illustrates the need to secure freedom amid oppression as evidenced in the literary material, Death of a Salesman. Through this publication, Miller (2015) outlines that to achieve the American dream, persons living in the United States had to work hard for that dream. In the Death of a Salesman, the characters Linda and Willy show their longing for freedom by securing an experience for the old neighborhood that was not marked with the aspects of modernization.

Nevertheless, despite their dissatisfaction with their current status, they comply with their current situation characterized by modernity and a commercialized environment. Arguably, this can be explained by their need to secure the American dream, which according to Miller (2005), persons have to work hard to attain it. It is also evident that Happy and Biff, who are also characters in the Death of a Salesman are willing to continue working in the challenging situation to attain their goals. Moreover, this can be justified by reason that they just fantasize getting their freedom away from their current working environment, but they do not actually leave their positions in search of their freedom.

Article Critique 2

This article also supports the need for freedom in the publication of Mice and Men. The article portrays how the characters George and Lennie strive with a challenging working environment in an effort to achieve their goals. Despite their willingness and fantasy to secure freedom, they remain patient and persistent with the unfavorable working environment. According to Brown (2014), George and Lennie, work against all the odds to earn enough money to build their dream to own a place of their own, with alfalfa and rabbits. Their friendship sets them apart from the other men in the world of the book and fuels their aspirations until the books violent conclusion. (Brown 1). This shows that people often strive to work at challenging situations to secure their goals, despite their strong desire for freedom.

Connection Between the Three Literary Materials

In light of the analysis of the Death of a Salesman, Dead Poets Society, and of Mice and Men, there is a connection that can be evidenced by all the three materials. In this case, the literary materials evidence characters that are trying to seek their freedom amidst an oppressive environment. In this case, the characters seek their escape within their varying sanctuaries in different contexts. Ultimately, this finding portrays the importance of freedom to humanity and the examples of various freedoms that people search for in their environment.


In conclusion, it is evident that finding freedom amidst oppression is a fundamental goal for all humanity. This is because even in the ancient times this aspect could be evidenced in various literary texts such as the Death of a Salesman, Dead Poets Society, and of Mice and Men. From the three publications, it is evident that most persons are not contented with their current situations. The three publications have portrayed that despite the wish to seek freedom, most people remain attached to their depressing situations. For example, Linda and Willy feel trapped and unable to change their situations on the Death of a Salesman. George and Lennie also feel trapped in their workplace, but they have not quit their work in search of their freedom. Ultimately, the analysis of the literary works has sufficiently portrayed that freedom is a necessity that all humans strive to achieve. That is even though such forms of freedom are not attainable.

Works Cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY Brown, A. C. The Learning Network: Text to Text | Of Mice and Men and Friendship in an Age of Economics.' 10 April 2014. <>.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Miller, A. Death of a Salesman. New York: Heinemann, 1949. Print.

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