Thursday, April 14, 2011

Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller


The play "Death of A Salesman" was written by the world renowned playwright Arthur Miller. Miller discusses the american dream within this play, through the perspecitve of a family of four. This family consists of Willy the father, Biff and Happy the sons, and Linda the mother. Early within the play it becomes very clear that Willy is quite unhappy with Biff's failures in life. He critisizes his son, accusing him of being lazy. Through a daydream, it comes to fruition that Biff is only following in his father's footsteps. Trying to be more liked by peers rather than academically successful, Biff is careless in school. Willy allows himself to be put out of touch with reality, turning a blind eye to peoples real opinions and his actual economic situation. Subconciously, Willy realizes his shortcomings and in turn, takes his failures out on those around him such as Linda. Subsequently, Willy's failures slowly derail both his internal and external emotions. He begins to talk to himself, living in a state of delirium, along with his wife who transfers her anger to her kids. Sadly, amongst this turmoil, Willy gets fired from his job. From lying to his family to cheating on his wife, Willy makes mistake after mistake, destroying both his life and outlook on the American Dream. These same mistakes also drag his entire family down with him, bringing about much anger and lying amongst them. Overall, this play really shows how the American Dream way of life is not given, but rather earned with honesty and hard work. By breaking the play down and analyzing sections, it becomes clear that the play discusses the important and honorable values one must follow to be successful both in the work force and at home with their families. Upon the novel's conclusion, Willy's failures provoke him to take his own life.


Questions:

1) How hard is it for kids to get out of their parents mold and become their own person? Within this play we see that Biff and Happy act similarly to their father, even though they realize it is wrong. Can kids ever truly break this mold and change how they act?


2) The "American Dream" means something a little different to everyone. To Willy it means to be both economically set, while still being very popular. What does it mean to you?

27 comments:

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

1. I think that more than ever children are breaking out of the mold of following in their parents footsteps and doing what they want to do and this is more acceptable in society today then it once was. I feel like once people realize they are doing something wrong they should, and do, try to make a change.

Sarah 5-6 said...

To answer question one: I can actually relate to that question. All I've ever told myself is to not do as my mother did when she was my age. And now that I'm older I'm not like her at all. I've made much better decisions than she did because I always used her as an example of "what not to do." So especially now a days it's becoming more common for a kid. These days they want to be more of their own person and break out of that mold.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

1) I believe that children as they grow up tend to act like their parents no matter what. It is the people that surround you during your adolescent stages in life that help form who you become. I do think that this mold is able to break in traumatic situations, however, everyone tends to act like their parents because it is the only actions they have ever known.

Bojana D 11.12 said...

1. I don't think it's difficult anymore for kids to break out of their parents mold. This is because now, kids get to choose what to do, rather than back in the day when children were expected to follow what their parents did. Kids can definatly change the mold and change how they act, especially if what they love is different from what their parents love.

2. The American Dream to me means living happily with a good family and enough money to be financially comfortable.

allie s 11-12 said...

1)Kids naturally take after their parents, but as they grow up and become older they mature into individuals. Kids today are their own person, with a little bit of their parents. Kids however take the form of their friends once in a while too, but overall in today's society many teens are who they are.
2) The American dream to me means to be happy. Ive said this my whole life, i want a job that will make me happy and not worry, and i want friends and family around. i would also like to be financially stable like Bojana said.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. I think it would be very hard for kids to get out of their parents mold. They have been raised like that and given similar values and beliefs. It would take a strong person to go against something they grew up with and were reinforced by their parents. I think a person can truly break the mold but I don't think that it would be easy.
2. Mine would have to include being financially stable like the others have said. I don't want to really be rich but I don't want to be poor either. I'd like a small house and just have simple things and be happy with a family. Oh and a white picket fence (just kidding).

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

To me, the American dream means finding my place, raising a family, and being happy. I think that a person needs to be able to be comfortable with themselves and their lifestyle, whatever this may be. While I do believe that financial success does play a part in this, I do not believe it is everything and the key to fullfilling all of one's dreams in the United States. Money makes buying things and the essential parts crucial for not only being happy but also surviving. Everyone needs food, shelter and clothing, and without money then providing these things for ones self and family becomes very difficult. As long as one has enough economical success to remain satisfied, I believe the rest of their dreams should relate to things that they have always wanted to do or see and that can ultimately make living a happy thing.

Liz S.11-12 said...

I think more kids today are finding it easier to break out of their parents' mold because the modern world today kind of expects that. There aren't a lot of kids who plan to follow into owning their dads car repair shop or anything like that, we're raised to have dreams of our own.

2. Having enough money to not get into debt and just be happy, with or without a husband and kids TBD

Kali D. 13-14 said...

1. I think it's hard for kids to get out of their parents mold because we grow up watching their every move and we see how they acted in different situations so we tend to do what they did. Everyone is raised differently and i think kids often just go with the flow and follow how their parents were.

Julie S. 5-6 said...

1. I think that in order to break the mold the parents set, the children must make a conscious effort not to be. When faced with choices they must take that into account instead of following their automatic reaction.

Ashley A. 11-12 said...

1) I think that kids can easily break out of their parents' mold if they see specific things the parents say/do and decide for themselves that they won't do or say that and that they'll be different. If they make the deciesion not to be like their parents, they won't be.
2) To me, the American Dream means to be happy with my life, regardless of if I'm rich or not, and having people close by that I love.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

To answer question 1 I agree with both arguments. Yes, kids do things to break out of that parental mold, but sometimes in the end they revert back to what their parents did. Many adults do this as they get older. As they age they find themselves acting more and more like their parents acted, no matter how hard they rebelled in their childhood years. At the same token, some events can make children never act like their parents. Traumatic events such as divorce or something even worse can forever ensure that some kids will never be like their parents.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

To answer question 2, I agree with the majority that said having a happy life and being financially stable is my American Dream. The dream to me has to include financial stability as in these economic times, that is the main focus of many people. Obviously, at the same time, happiness is key. All the financial stability cannot ensure happiness and that is something everyone needs to remember too.

Kaitlyn H 11-12 said...

The "American Dream" means about the same thing to me as it means to most people. It means to be successful in life, which usually means becoming economically set. It also means to set goals and have dreams, and to take every effort to reach them.

Leah A 5-6 said...

1. I believe that in today's society it is easier for children to break out of their parent's mold. Today, children have their own passions and dreams that they want to achieve. Back then, children followed in their parents footsteps because of tradition. Now more and more children are going out in the world an doing what they want.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1) I believe that children are capable of breaking out of their parents' mold if they are strong-minded and determined. Kids natural instinct is most likely instilled in them by their parents. In order to act differently, they would need to see that their parents are not always right. They would then have an internal battle judging their actions to compare it to that of their parents to ensure they are acting on their own without the influence of their parents.

JessieW 11-12 said...

2) To me the American Dream means that you have enough money to support your lifestyle, and that you are happy with your life. Life seems meaningless if you aren't happy.

tyler k 13-14 said...

Answering the first question and using first hand experience, kids can break their parent's mold for sure. I mean, my dad is great at math and has a job that uses it while i worry him by pursuing music and the arts while i go against his idea of going to a community college for a 2 year degree since I am want to go a four year college and explore my opportunities.

Mike B 13-14 said...

Willys idea of the American Dream is flawed. He wanted popularity and riches and lost sight of what is truly important in life. I believe it is much more important to have a close family and have the freedom to do what you want. I would chose happiness over riches.

James F (11-12) said...

1. as long as kids obtain equal or better opportunities than their parents, they can shed the acclaimed mold that we all hold. when kids are finding their way in life, they are of course going to act like their parents in some way but in the long run they will find their own life. kids will always be able to change their actions because life is about choices. unless kids continue to make poor choices, they can do whatever they want.
2.the american dream in my eyes is to succeed. i want to be happy and have a life where money isnt an issue.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

I think the American Dream means something different to everyone. A lot of people think of it as having a lot of money but money does not always bring happiness which is mainly what the American Dream is about. Many people come to America in search of this ideal lifestyle. Maybe it means having a good job or a nice home. To me, the American Dream means that I have every opportunity to do what I want if I work hard in life. Having the freedoms and means to reach these goals is the ultimate pathway to this. I do not think that I need to have an unlimited amount of money to be happy with my life but to be able to do something that I enjoy doing every day as a job.

Kara K. 5/6 said...

1. Many of times it takes awhile for kids to become their own person. Everyone is born as their own person, but parents have a large influence on how their children are brought up. Children can change how they act, but they will be rebeling against their parents greatly. Children usually follow in their parents footsteps unless they realize that the ways their parents brought them up were the wrong ways. For example parents that smoke may impact a child to smoke and to realize that smoking is unheathly.
2.To me the American Dream is to achieve all of your goals and live a healthy life with a good group of freinds and a nice family. In addition of having enough money to live a life not in worry of finances.

Dana D 11-12 said...

2. Many people say "money doesn't buy happiness". While that is true, having money definitely makes the happiness easier. Money provides necessities such as food, shelter, health care, etc. Without these living would be a struggle. Once the necessities are accounted for money also makes your goals in life easier to achieve. For me personally I wish to be able to travel and that is something that requires money. Having money gives you freedom and keeps you from having to rely on others. To me at least, freedom is happiness.

Eric M. 11-12 said...

I think it depends on the situaution as to how easy it is. Many parents try to pressure their kids to do what they want their children to do instead of what their children want to do. Sometimes, parents would rather live vicariously through their kids than support the desires of their children. This can create a big challenge in breaking the mold, but if the parents are supportive, there's no limit to what the children can do

Greg P. 13-14 said...

It is possible for kids to break their parents mold. A lot of kids break out by rebelling if their parents try to force them into their ideal mold.

MaryL11-12 said...

I think that while it is really hard for kids to get out of the mold of their parents, that it isn't impossible. Part of the reason why it is so hard to break away is that once a child starts to form their own path, their family disowns them more and more. Your family should be a constant thing in your life and then they aren't it is really difficult to be your own person because you don't have anything or anyone to back you up.

Cieran B. 5-6 said...

1.It is hard to get out of their parents mold in case of upsetting them and it is even harder to do something that you do not want to do. Most kids want to do their own thing and not their parents want them to do.