Joyce Carol Oates on Death of a Salesman
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  1. #11
    Inactive Member mrodriguez's Avatar
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    Joyce Carol Oates on Death of a Salesman
    I think that Oates has illuminated me with a new perspective on the criticisms of this play. While I knew Death of a Salesman was a critic of the traditional view of the American Dream, I had not seen how it also criticized cosumerism. Oates sums it up in this line:

    "As we near the twenty-first century, it seems evident that America has become an ever more frantic, self-mesmerized world of salesmanship, image without substance, empty advertising rhetoric, and that peculiar product of our consumer culture “public relations”—a synonym for hypocrisy, deceit, fraud."

    Despite Wily Loman not reaching the success he has sought, Oates believes that the novel illustrates "the dark side of success":

    "Yet these are fellow Americans to whom “attention must be paid.” Arthur Miller has written the tragedy that Illuminates the dark side of American success—which is to say, the dark side of us."

    What I understand from this is that there exists a criticism for the success achieved by the Willy Loman type. The type that can encourage stealing (where later Biff has kleptomania), stresses appearance above all and makes his children cheat rather than learn. This person who is looking for a short-cut where there is none is bound to fail. This goes hand in hand with Miller's point of stressing that hard work is a component of the American Dream that if often neglected.

    I really enjoyed this play. It has many subtle messages and symbols that are easy to relate to. The modern setting helps in this respect. Death of a Salesman also has valuable lessons in the game of life that add to its value.

  2. #12
    Inactive Member RodrigoCC's Avatar
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    "He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. and then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory."
    I feel like this quote from DOAS really sums up the idea that I got from the book. This book really gave me the impression that once you realize your life is a lie you just go into a breakdown. His whole life he pretended to like his family and the entire time he was living a lie. Suicide was the only option because that is something way to cruel to live with. He was a person who probably dreamed of being successful and having a white picket-fence, even though he got the fence he never really achieved anything through work or family.

    His salesmanship, his family relations, his very life—all have been talk, optimistic and inflated sales rhetoric; yet, suddenly, in this powerful scene, Willy Loman realizes he has nobody to talk to; nobody to listen.

    This is when his massive breakdown occurs. I completely agree with what is said in the quote above. This shows that he was simply living a lie that he could no longer accept. He pretended his whole life to be someone that he in no way was. He really let down his kids and the rest of his family that really appreciated the fake Willy Loman.

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    Inactive Member alexiacalo's Avatar
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    "for all his delusions and intellectual limitations, about which Arthur Miller is unromantically clear-eyed, Willy Loman is all of us. Or, rather, we are Willy Loman..."

    None of us really wants to be considered a failure and people constantly fail to see their own errors and reality. It is natural that all of us believe we are special or better and this leads many to turn from their real situation.

    "And we recognize our desperate child’s voice assuring us, like Willy Loman pep-talking himself at the edge of a lighted stage as at the edge of eternity—”God Almighty, [I’ll] be great yet! A star like that, magnificent, can never really fade away!”
    Except of course, it can."

    Oates repeatedly characterizes the true tragedy and denial Willy faces. He was never great or special and he is nothing more but a dreamer.

    "it seems evident that America has become an ever more frantic, self-mesmerized world of salesmanship, image without substance, empty advertising rhetoric, and that peculiar product of our consumer culture “public relations”—a synonym for hypocrisy, deceit, fraud. Where Willy Loman is a salesman, his son Biff is a thief. Yet these are fellow Americans to whom “attention must be paid.” Arthur Miller has written the tragedy that Illuminates the dark side of American success"


    I agree with Oates overall response and really enjoyed it. This perspective seems accurate and it gives a whole new face to the American dream. I liked how Oates ties society to the play making it more personal.

  4. #14
    Inactive Member J tanner wade's Avatar
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    -i agree with the quote "willie loman is all of us" because the real core of the man willie loman had all of the normal desires and wishes of all of us today. we all want to be liked and successful and to see our children become successful, but i think willie took it to the extreme, he failed because he set his expectations much to high for himself making it impossible for him to be satisfied.

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    Inactive Member hcaceres's Avatar
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    Oates’ article on Death of a Salesman is very interesting because it offers a new perspective by which the play can be analyzed. He begins by pointing out the relationship the play and Willy Loman’s character has with us, the readers. Oates distinguishes that each specific reader does not face the inevitable relation it shares personally with Willy. He further declares that Willy represents the inner-self of many, and that his situation is not an individual condition but a universal truth.

    Also, it is very interesting how Oates emphasizes the concept of failure and success in Death of a Salesman. He points out that Willy goes beyond failure into a distinct transcendent character. I believe that this is true because it is the effort and process that should be considered more than his eventual decline. The effort Willy made can be contrasted with Biff’s lack of. However, Willy dies poor while Biff inherits the money from Willy’s death.

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    Inactive Member sofiastaburuaga's Avatar
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    Reading this article my impression was that Ms. Oates was perfectly correct. It was like if she was reading my own mind. In a way she says that all of us are trying to live the American Dream and that we are all Willy Lomans.
    “Willy Loman is all of us. Or, rather, we are Willy Loman, particularly those of us who are writers, poets, dreamers; the yearning soul “way out there in the blue.” Dreaming is required of us, even if our dreams are very possibly self-willed delusions. And we recognize our desperate child’s voice assuring us, like Willy Loman pep-talking himself at the edge of a lighted stage as at the edge of eternity—”God Almighty, [I’ll] be great yet! A star like that, magnificent, can never really fade away!”
    Except of course, it can.”
    She says that we all have dreams and that we actually NEED dreams to survive and to strive to become better. We are Willy Lomans in the sense that we dream, have aspirations. We are like him also in the sense that we don’t like to fail and sometimes we can’t accept that we have failed and moved on. We pretend that everything is going great when its actually not. We have to crash sometime to get back in the reality of life and not live in our ideal world in which everything is perfect and we are all superstars and that we are good at all things we do. We are humans and we have flaws and ups and downs. Willy realized that he had failed when he had no one to talk to and he was left alone. “Willy Loman realizes he has nobody to talk to; nobody to listen.”
    “As we near the twenty-first century, it seems evident that America has become an ever more frantic, self-mesmerized world of salesmanship, image without substance, empty advertising rhetoric, and that peculiar product of our consumer culture “public relations”—a synonym for hypocrisy, deceit, fraud.”

    He was living a fake life; where his whole life was a farce and he fabricated a fantasy where he was the best, everyone loved him and he was the best salesman ever. In a way we try to do that ourselves. We often want to believe that we are perfect and that everyone likes us and then we crash when we realize that its not how we thought.

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    Junior Hostboard Member rosewurster's Avatar
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    Re: Joyce Carol Oates on Death of a Salesman

    The play "Death of a Salesman" performed by Arthur Miller is the description of tropes appearing through the entire content. Moreover, it has been brought to the screen by the popular producer Stanley Kramer. If you want to get an overview, kindly follow Essays On Death of a Salesman | bigpaperwriter.com

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    Junior Hostboard Member Ann8284's Avatar
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    Re: Joyce Carol Oates on Death of a Salesman


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    Joyce Carol Oates on Death of a Salesman
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