Death of the Salesman II
The second part of the Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is overly disturbing and leaves the reader full of pity towards the salesman and his unfortunate family. The second section documents the failed final attempts by Willy to turn his life around and make a meaningful sense of his salesmanship, and his latter death. Despite the compassion we might feel towards the family, some scholars feel that Willy’s predicaments are consequences of his failure to make effective decisions.
The second act of the play encompasses a lot of emotional distress with the family striving to cope with the increasing financial demands and the deteriorating health of their father. These alongside Willy’s stresses at work and the disappointments that he feels his sons are putting him through makes the reader sympathize with the character. In my opinion, the author presents Willy’s scenario as a man whose poor decisions and bad luck have caught up with him, making him miserable and unjustly suffering in the eyes of the reader. Nonetheless, Field expressly states that a crime that Willy commits is justly punished (19). Accordingly, this source suggests that Willy’s bitterness towards his father and brother’s disappearance, his choice to become a salesman, and his improper parenting are responsible for his predicament and disgrace. Although my view may differ from Field’s, it is practical to accept his theory as a poetic consequence of his actions.
Act II of the play is intensely emotional as the author narrates the disgraceful death and burial of a salesman, who dedicated his life to pleasing his family and securing a better future for his sons. Some scholars, however, try to reduce the guilt in the reader’s mind by contemplating that Willy is solely responsible for the outcome of the play. The critic makes me question the overall intent of the writer and leaves me wondering how such dismal mistakes can result in hefty consequences.
Field, B.S. “Hamartia in Death of a Salesman” Duke University Press (1972), Vol. 18, No. 1 p.
19-24. Retrieved from