Discuss 'Death of a salesman' as a family drama


Some critics are of the opinion that Miller's Death of a Salesman is concerned mainly with the father son conflict, while others see the play as a family drama. Miller himself regards as a unit of society. For him, family does not simply depict the emotional bonds between the family members and the relations. Miller thinks the problem that confronts men is how man can make a home for himself in the vastness of strangers and how may he change that vastness into a home.

   Miller believes and demonstrates that home is the starting point for every individual. The job of the dramatist is to inform the uniformed about the present. Miller does not regard family as an isolated microcosm. It serves and important psychological function. The dramatist relates the family to a larger group, the society.

Playwrights like Miller and O'Neill have the family as their forte. While O'Neill's dramas evolve round  the problems of obedience, respect, lack of filial bond; etc, the plays of Miller goes a step further. We witness the disintegration of the family in the dramas of Arthur Miller. In the Loman home, jealousy, disapproval and guilt shake the family ties. In Miller's plays, the family is a centrifugal force. For a American individualistic mind, disintegration of the family is not painful. Audience is not move to tears regarding  this issue. Miller also asserts this American individualism. His plays are based on the thesis that an individual who can survive the disintegration of the family and who can find another role himself in the larger social group can be "at home in the world".
In ' Death of a Salesman', the tragedy is not Willy alone . It is the tragedy of the family, of Linda and of Biff. Biff worships his father and looks up to him for ideals. But he finds filth and corruption which shocked him and compelled him to sever the bond of filial respect and love. After trust has been betrayed, shame and disapproval come in way of a real reconciliation. In this process of discovery and shock, both Willy and Biff get some self knowledge. Willy is attempting to gain self fulfillment by making Biff into a loyal and worthy son. He is obsessed with this and will not accept Biff's failure at any rate. Willy's suicide is not only an escape route from shame and exposure, it is also his ultimate attempt to maintain the integrity of the family and stamp it with his confidence. Thus, both Willy and Biff are opposite characters who want to do well to each other but their direction are contra posed.

Another aspect of family relationship that the dramatist explores is that of the husband and the wife. Linda's love for Willy is very obvious. But she is a failure when it come to understanding Willy. She sympathize and supports Willy blindly without really knowing about his dreams and why they are such. READ MORE

Some Study Question.

1.Discuss 'Death of a Salesman' as a tragedy ?
2.Discuss Miller's view on the role of family in modern drama, with particular reference to Death of a Salesman.