Theatre Essay

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Influence of Fear from the Cold War The end of World War II afforded Americans a validation of their belief in the power of patriotism. But this confirmation was quickly challenged by the Cold War and the exaggerated fear of communism. Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman was written during this era in American history, where success was as available as oxygen in the air due to the increased infrastructure and employment opportunities that the world war brought. Consequently, this accessibility of wealth led Miller to fear that Americans would fall into the trap of entitlement and, thus, the author instilled these work ethics, as well as digressed gender ideals, into the characters he created in his play. More specifically, Willy, Biff, Happy, and Linda Loman represent members of a family who support each other in their counterproductive ideals of success. Willy Loman is the head of household who embodies a person who holds no accountability of his failure at success, which is due to his beliefs about how to attain prosperity. Speaking to his brother-in-law about his son, Willy explains, “It’s who you know and the smile on your face! … And Ben! when he walks into a business office his name will sound out like a bell and all the doors will open to him!” (Jacobus, 1090). Essentially, Willy’s ideals about success are unrealistic because no determination or hard work is required in his dream about prosperity. Unfortunately, this is an unhealthy paradigm that is transferred to his sons, Biff and Happy. Though Biff Loman exists during an era in which working is synonymous with accomplishment, his beliefs echo those of his father. More specifically, when speaking with his mother, Biff expresses the idea that his failure in a white-collar position was due to the fact that he does not fit into the business world. His brother, Happy, explains that, “The trouble with you in

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