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The Psychoanalysis And Death Of A Salesman English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 970 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Death of a Salesman is a story about a man named Willy Loman, who is a sixty-two year traveling salesman. Willy is obsessed with the American Dream. He has high expectations and fantasies about what life should be for himself and his family. Willy does not understand the reality of how to successfully acheive the American Dream. Willy is married to Linda and they have two sons Biff and Happy.

The theory I will apply to this play is psychoanalytic criticism. Psychoanalytic criticism is used to help us resolve our psychological disorders. Some of the psychoanalytical themes shown in this play include displacement, low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, insecure or unstable sense of self and oedipal complex, fear of betrayal and regression.

Willy believes that the American Dream consists of having a perfect family and raising perfect children, owning a home, looking attractive, being a successful, very well liked and popular businessman. What Willy does not realize is that all of his wants are attainable, but he has the wrong idea of how to accomplish his goals to achieve the American Dream.

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Oedipal complex is having a dysfunctional bond with a parent that we do not outgrow in adulthood. It does not allow us to develop mature relationships. Willy’s father abandoned him and his brother at a young age. Later on, Willy’s brother left him to go to Alaska. This is why willy has fears of abandonment. One of his fears is that his family will leave him.

Regression is the temporary return to a former psychological state, which is not just imagined but relived. Regression can also be the return to painful and traumatic events or to pleasant experiences. Willy showed regression dramatically in the play. He had several Flashbacks of his childhood. This showed us the pain he suffered from his father and brother abandoning him at a young age. He also had memories from the affair. Those are just two examples of regression that was shown throughout the play.

As it is shown throughout the story, the main character Willy, suffers from an insecure or unstable sense of self. He talks to himself a lot. His wife tells her sons how he is mentally unstable and has tried to commit suicide several times by inhaling gas and wrecking his car. The flashbacks from his childhood puts him in an unhealthy different state of mind. This unstableness effects his career and relationships with family and friends.

Displacement is taking our anger and frustrations out on someone or something less threatening than the person who caused our fear or hurt. Displacement occurs in scene one. As Willy explains to his wife how their son, Biff is a lazy bum.

Willy’s oldest son, Biff is thirty four years old. Biff wants to buy a ranch and raise cattle. Willy criticizes Biff for working on farms and horse ranches. Part of Willy’s idealistic American Dream does not include his son doing manual labor. Willy wants Biff to be more like his brother, Happy who is thirty two years old and more successful and assured than his older brother. Willy has higher ambitions for Biff.

Fear of betrayal is the nagging feeling that our loved ones can not be trusted. Betrayal occurs in scene one, when Biff rejects his fathers dreams for him to become a businessman like himself. Willy feels that Biff has been disloyal because he decides to follow his own desires. Willy took his decision as a personal insult and thinks the reason for his choice was because of the affair he had.

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Willy is worried about his family betraying him, but he has betrayed them in the past. Willy had an affair with a women in a Boston hotel room. Willy has an obsession with the condition of Linda’s stockings, which takes him to an old memory of when Biff catches him cheating on his mother. Willy uses new stockings to put the memories of his infidelity behind him.

At the end of act two Willy drives off in his car and kills himself. He commits suicide so his son, Biff can collect $20,000 worth of life insurance. He wants Biff to use his life insurance money to start a business. From there Biff changes his mind about wanting to start a ranch. He decides to take his fathers life insurance money and start a business. He wants to fufill his fathers dreams of becoming a successful businessman.

Low self-esteem is the feeling that we are less worthy than other people. Willy feels that although, he did not fufill his life goals of living the American Dream his son can. One of the reasons he committed suicide is because he felt that he was a failure as a businessman. After he did not get hired at the company in New York, He could not handle the guilt of not being able to provide for his family.

Willy’s wife thought he was a very successful business man. She thought he was a very well liked. Only a few people attended Willy’s funeral. Linda was wondering where all of his business friends were. The moral of this story is telling us that we should be realistic with our dreams. This message is valueable because it shows us how some people can have unrealistic observations on life.

In conclusion, the message of the story is telling us that we should work hard if we want to accomplish anything in life. Willy Loman could have been better off if he had a plan behind him. His way of life was not concurrent with the way things work.

Literature is important to american identity in many ways. Literature is used as a tool for reference. Literature helps us look back at how things were done in past generations. The text says how drastically things can change, meaning that we can become something we did not plan. My interpretation of the text is that everything is not as easy as it seems.


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