Death of a Salesman

The Death of Dave Singleman: A Study of Contrasts 11th Grade

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman actually makes reference to the deaths of two salesmen: protagonist Willy Loman and an admired yet never-seen character named Dave Singleman. It can be argued that the most obvious difference in the deaths of Dave Singleman and Willy Loman can be found in the numbers of people that attended their respective funerals. While Singleman's funeral was attended by people from all over New England, Willy's was only attended by a small number of friends and family, a fact which shocks his wife, Linda ("where are all the people he knew?"). By crafting Linda's words this way, Miller not only creates pathos and catharsis, but generates dramatic irony as the audience see that Linda has unwittingly highlighted one of Willy's larger failures.

As a salesman, Singleman had many contacts and was "well-liked" in the business - something Willy saw as vital to the success of a salesman, due to the people-oriented nature of business in pre-1940s America. It could be seen as strange then that Linda would be shocked at the small 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...

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