Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN is a classic that I never read in high school, so after my husband recently reread it, I snatched it up. I both loved and despised this play. In many ways it is masterful. Even decades later, the themes of Miller's work are still alive and kicking: the working man, the pursuit of the American Dream, the way corporations tend to treat people not as living, breathing beings, but as numbers. I've watched friends and family lose jobs and be abused by their employers, much the way Willy was in this story. My heart ached for Willy.
And at the same time, I wanted to slap him, because Willy's demise was what I disliked about this book and it seemed avoidable. His intentions were in the right place but he babies his boys when they are young, leading them to sport questionable morals in their youth. He inflates his own ego in the process of trying to feel important and valued. He is downright horrible to his wife. He refuses to accept his sons for the individuals they become and still tries to mold them into what he sees best, even after they are grown, independent, and more or less happy. In the end, he destroys the only thing he has going for him: family.
I found the entire thing depressing, and yet I'm still oddly moved by the whole affair. In the end, I'm glad I read it. There is something powerful about this story, even in its darkness.
Originally reviewed here