Death of a Salesman

Forgetting Family, Finding Freedom 12th Grade

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie capitalize on the theme of abandonment. In both plays, the protagonists experience abandonment and later desert their respective families; as a result, they illustrate the idea that freedom can be achieved by leaving family and its accompanying responsibilities.

In Death of a Salesman, there are several incidences where the anti-hero Willy Loman is left behind, which then inspires him to leave others behind to reach his personal goals. The earliest references to Willy being abandoned is when he mentions his father, claiming that the man had a “little streak of self-reliance” that prompted him to leave the family in favor of moving to Alaska (Miller 1407). However, rather than condemning the betrayal, Willy dubs his father an “adventurous man,” thus praising him for his independence (1407). In such a light, Willy chooses to prioritize independent ventures—more specifically, ventures that lead to success—over family life. Another example of abandonment is with Willy’s older brother Ben; Ben discards him claiming that he “[hasn’t] the time” to talk to Willy (1409). However, Ben does extend a hand to Willy, demonstrating the pull of familial ties, when...

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