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The Death of Dave Singleman: A Survey of Difference
As a salesman, Singleman had many contacts and was “well-liked” in the business – one thing Willy saw as crucial to the achievement of a salesman, due to the individuals-oriented nature of enterprise in pre-1940s America. It could be observed as strange then that Linda would be shocked at the tiny number of attendees at Willy’s funeral, as she already knew he wasn’t a successful salesman. This ties in with the play’s status as a domestic tragedy, as Willy’s exaggerations of his achievements and character have led to his family members holding a false, distorted perception of him. In addition, Miller effectively utilizes this line to reinforce Willy as the play’s tragic hero he wanted his loved ones to be proud of him, but due to his hamartia of exaggeration, their view of him deteriorated after his death. Singleman’s funeral was really distinct to this, as the number of folks attending only served to confirm his accomplishment as a salesman, juxtaposing and highlighting Willy’s own failure.
It can also be argued that the deaths of Singleman and Willy differ in nature. Although Willy commits suicide, it is implied that Singleman died of old age, becoming eighty-four. Likewise, their deaths are contrasted by the level of wealth held by the two guys, as highlighted by Willy when he says Singleman died “in his green velvet slippers”. This imagery is strongly linked to the “green” colour of dollars and presents an affluent image, additional serving to highlight Willy’s need for material wealth and his admiration for those who have it. In characterising Willy this way, Miller ties Willy to the materialistic nature of the mid-twentieth century, which may possibly be the only component of Willy’s life in which he is ‘up to date’. Dramatic irony can be found in Willy’s description of the “green velvet” slippers. We are told that he only met Singleman when, so it is unlikely that he knew the intimate information of the man’s death adequate to know what he was wearing. As a result, the audience can clearly see Willy’s idolisation of Singleman and can infer that Willy is projecting his own dreams and wishes onto the image of a man he deems to have been really productive. By building up this excellent of oppulence, Miller builds the foundations for the excellent quantity of pathos at the end of the play, when the audience sees that, as opposed to Singleman, Willy died a poor man who did not attain his dream.
In spite of all this, it is plausible that the deaths of the two guys have been comparable in that they both died without possessing wholly achieved the American Dream. As most of the play is viewed via Willy’s eyes, Miller places far more emphasis on the materialistic side of the Dream than the familial aspects. Although Willy’s blind admiration tends to make it look that Singleman achieved almost everything, Willy’s description and even Singleman’s own name recommend that he died a bachelor, meaning he did not attain the familial aspect of the American Dream. This creates additional contrast amongst the two characters as Willy did certainly accomplish this, but neglected to acknowledge the achievement of his family members in his endless search for materialistic achievement, strongly alligning Death with the genre of domestic tragedy. Willy’s blindness to the significance of family creates a wonderful amount of dramatic irony throughout that play, as the audience can see that he would most likely be happier if he focussed on that aspect of his life, maybe stopping the tragedy of his early death.
By implementing the juxtaposition of two characters in the very same field of work in this way, Miller pushes the argument that you can never hope to totally attain the American Dream, regardless of your profession or life options. It appears that the play as a entire is a warning of blind faith in the Dream, and the failure of each Willy and Singleman to obtain it by their deaths shows that it is a fallacy with a inevitably dark ending.
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