Sunday, January 11, 2015

Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman is a brilliant play.  Willy, Linda, and their sons connect with the audience.  I could see their lives in the lives of people I've known.  The play is American in sensibility, as well as origination, but appeals to everyone.  Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman has been performed around the world, from England to Italy to China.  The hopes and dreams of the Lomans are the hopes and dreams so many people have.

I have had the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman sitting around in my house (and all the apartments before) for over a decade.  I read The Crucible twice, once in high school, once in University. I also vaguely remember seeing the movie. I missed out on Death of a Salesman. Sometime after my second reading of The Crucible, I saw the 50th anniversary edition of Death of a Salesman on a clearance table. I had to get it.  Afterwards, because University didn't allow for much recreational reading, it sat on my shelf.  I don't know why I let it get away from me. It was brilliant. Death of a Salesman is one of the best plays/stories I've ever read.

I'd love to see it performed.  As far as I know, it won't be playing in Toronto or Stratford in the near future.  I know there are 1966 and 1985 films, maybe I'll be getting my hands on one.  I could picture it all in my head though.  I know it's called "Death" of a Salesman, but I was still holding out hope.  I know it was silly, but I wanted Willy and his family to break free.  Maybe he did in the end.

I felt so sorry for everyone, the boys, who grew up with parents who built them up so much, they didn't know how to fail.  I couldn't comprehend the lies, I know they were "selling" themselves, but it seemed so false, lying not just to others, but to themselves.  I think of all the characters in the play, Bernard probably saw the truth more than anyone else.  I wonder if that's why he wasn't also a salesman.

I'm not sure how I feel about Linda.  I think she has strength, trying to hold her family together and supporting her disintegrating husband.  But she also seems a victim.  Was this the lives of many housewives of that era?  Do they hold on desperately?  Is it the lives of some wives now?  Linda also tells her sons what is acceptable, she scolds them for their bad behaviour.  She tries to protect her husband's state of mind.  I think, whether I end up liking her or not, she is a great character.

Arthur Miller's play is amazing.  I recommend it (and The Crucible) to everyone.  I think it is thoroughly a modern classic.  I am glad I finally read it. 

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