Arthur Miller the Tragic Existence Term Paper

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Willy suffers from the consequences of the internal and external conflicts in his life. One of the antagonists in this story is the false promise of the American Dream, not another person per se. Willy is unable to become rich and show his family his own worth through material possessions, despite his hard work and perseverance, which is a conflict to him because he believed that would happen. He believes that the company he has been employed by for decades will promote him, but instead he is fired. He has worked hard and struggled to provide for his family, yet his sons reject him. Willy learns that the truths he has believed in life are actually false promises. These conflicts are all caused by the antagonist of the play, and losing his job and income and therefore perceiving himself to have let everyone, including himself, down are his external conflicts. Willy is also conflicted internally, which he shows through examples such as his paradoxical opinion about his car, which goes from being the best car in the world to being useless. He is conflicted internally because he is trying to maintain an identity as a successful father, a providing husband, and an effective salesman, all of which do not coexist in harmony.

With Willy as the major protagonist of the play, he himself practically states the dramatic question of Miller's work out loud. When Biff returns to his parents' home, Willy asks why he is there.

This is the essence of the dramatic question, which is what caused the father and son relationship to fail between Willy and Biff, and can their separation be reconciled? This of course applies to the major theme of the play, which is about the failing of the American Dream for the common man. Other characters also have their own lesser dramatic questions in the work. With Linda in mind as a minor antagonist, her own dramatic question might be whether or not she can help Willy overcome his irrational need to be a success so that he can actually be a person to the family?

In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman watches as his favorite son does not live up to his expectations, as his beloved employer betrays him, and as his marriage falls apart, all the while seeing himself as a failure because of his inability to get rich and famous as a salesman.
Willy reminisces about all of the mistakes he has made in his marriage, with his mistress, for his children, and on the job, and finally becomes entirely aware of the fact that he has not achieved his goals in life. Unable to attain it himself, Willy kills himself so that the American Dream will be available to his son. His sacrifice is not appreciated or recognized, as no one attends his funeral, and this is part of his role as a somewhat untraditional tragic hero. Willy is the most obvious protagonist in this plot, despite or because of his tragic flaws, and his internal and external conflicts become obvious as he downward spirals towards his own death. The dramatic question of why Willy's family has fallen apart, and additionally why the American Dream has failed him, are approached with a flair of social commentary that secure Miller's place not only as the playwright of the first real American tragedy, but also as a master of the tragic paradox of American existence......

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