Death of a salesman is one of the lost iconic plays that have been written. The play is full of symbolism, depression and fulfilment of the American dream. The focal character of the play is Willy Loman. The hint here is his name 'Loman', as this symbolises where he feels that he is in the greater order of the universe. He used to be a great salesman, but due to his age he has lost his sparkle. His wife Linda, is so busy trying to protect Willy that she is unable to express herself for fear of hurting his feelings. Willy and Linda's two sons Biff and Happy are two opposites. Biff at the age is 34 still has not found his niche in life and Happy, the younger son really wants to please his father. Willy had an affair, and Biff found out about the affair.
The play is interwoven with imagery and symbolism. Miller runs a continual theme throughout the play, the main one is that all men can fall or fail and this is no less of a tragedy than if someone famous failed at doing something. Miller also successfully uses the vehicle of flashbacks to draw the audience into the mind of Willy Loman. Willy's character is materialistic and shallow believing that success is based on personal attractiveness.
He believes that his family can only escape the debt he has subjected them to if he kills himself and the family will then get the insurance money. What is surprising and quite shocking is that Willy has made several attempts on his life prior to which he is in denial, but it takes Biff declaring his love for his father for Willy to 'celebrate' but successfully committing suicide. For Willy, this is the first really successful thing that he feels he can do for his family. Prior to Biffs declaration of his love, Willy always though that Biff was out to spoil everything and cause his demise as it was Biff who had discovered his father's affair, but Willy was so wrong about his son.
The play can be enjoyed at many levels and the more it is explored through reading the more secrets and surprises the reader finds that Miller has hidden through the use of dialogue and symbolism. Miller successfully encompasses mental health issues, family bonds, materialism, aging and , decision making and relationships.