Motifs In Death Of A Salesman

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A motif is a reoccurring structure within a story or play. A motif may exist within a plan, a place, an idea or even in some cases an object. As long as the motif is reoccurring and depicts symbolism or meaning that is significant to the story. The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a story that consists of many motifs that convey it’s meaning and the theme. Willy Loman is a salesman in New York. He believes that a person is measured by their wealth and success. Also, he believes life is more meaningful, when a person has a career. A motif in Death of a Salesman is three places that are often referred to in measuring a person’s success. Alaska, the African Jungle and the American West are touched upon often through this Two Act play as motifs. These places represent Willy Loman’s family members such as his father, brother and favourite son. Above all these three locations represent opportunities for wealth and a new life that he has missed that his family obtained. Alaska represents Willy’s father and the success he had in Alaska during the gold rush. Alaska is often referred to when Ben, Willy’s dead brother, is present during the play. It represents the opportunity Willy passed up to live in New York and be a salesman. Willy states, “If I’d gone with him to Alaska that time, everything would’ve been totally different” (I, 45). Here, Willy confirms that he regrets not going to Alaska and that he is not as successful as he would like because he claims his life would be different. Later in Act Two, Willy asks if Ben landed his Alaska deal and Ben replies with, “Doesn’t take much time if you know what you’re doing ” (II, 84). Here, Ben confirms what Willy believes that a business deal should not take much work. This foreshadows the difficulty and disappointment Willy will have when Biff tells him Bill Oliver will not loan him money. Alaska is once
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