“Deathof a Salesman” and the Election Results (Trump Win)
Thevictory of the Donald John Trump as the next President of the UnitedStates was greeted with shock and anxiety. No piece of art representsthe thematic aspects of the events preceding the election results asArthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” The play of elicits amontage of a man’s internal conflicts that are characterized bydreams, arguments, confrontations, and memories all summed up as anexperience in his last twenty-four hours before committing suicide.The Loman Family consisting of Willy, Biff, Happy, and Lindasignifies the American electorate, especially the conservatives onthe far right (Miller).Willy, the main protagonist in the play, symbolizes the struggles ofdenial and the way a single event can define an individual. Theobvious attempts by the individual to eradicate the event representsthe failure of many people to get over what is behind them and beable to build a new future. A life of regret and hatred can makepeople to make very poor decisions that affect others. The electionof Donald Trump has, indeed, defined the current worldview of theAmerican psyche. In this regards, the paper draws a parallelillustration between the story and the victory of Donald Trump.
Thewhole world now knows that so many mistakes are likely to be made bythe far right as a means to correct what it feels are the lostopportunities of the past. For instance, many of the people who votedfor Donald Trump believed that he was the solution to lost factoryjobs and manufacturing jobs that disappeared when globalization beganto be entrenched in national economies. Choosing Trump despite hisfaults is, indeed, a protest characterized by acts of denial thatindicate a deliberate rejection of reality the same way Willy decidesto define his life by the illusions he creates in his mind. Ajuxtaposition of Willy’s life and his relationship with othermembers of the Loman Family presents an opportunity to link the playwith events preceding Trump’s victory in the presidential election.The Loman family constructs a cycle of denial that is totallyself-perpetuated and there is an obvious conflict between order anddisorder.
Aseries of contradictions of Willy’s personality makes Biff, Willy’sson, to reevaluate his admiration of his father. At first, Willy isan admirable father to Biff, but everything changes when Biff learnsthat his father was unfaithful to Linda. Biff’s discovery alsochanges his perception of the world. To him, Willy created a falseself-image to the family and the society. Over the past thirty years,American had defined itself as a progressive country. The generalimage of America the world over was that old habits of racism,discrimination, and economic exclusion are gradually becoming issuesof great significance (Remnick 1). Like the Loman family, however, aseries of contradictions began to create a loss of admiration andtrust. Racist remarks on social media and the growth of an extremelyconservative media showed that America has not outgrown the sameissues it considers gradually belonging to the past. Biff representsthe general voter who discovered that the entire narrative ofinclusion was all but a false self-image. In desperation, he lackssomeone to look up to as a role model because his father is not theperson he thought was so admirable. Trump’s victory reflects thesame loss of reverence for the conventional way of viewing politics.Rather than evaluate his flaws as a candidate, the disappointedelectorate viewed him as better than the usual politicians it hasoften admired until such a time when it lost trust.
Willyrepresents the entire American body politic. The politicalenvironment is awash with denial and ideal aspects. The reality doesnot seem to be appreciated. The reality is that many Americansespecially those who come from families that are excluded by the lossof jobs from the manufacturing sector and the slow recovery do notrecognize that globalization and the structural changes in the labormarket are largely inevitable. The same Americans living in denialand wishing to relive their previous life glory are likely to listento any message of hope no matter how far-fetched it seems. LikeWilly, who had several suicide attempts, they are likely to make manygrave mistakes such as electing a man who is gravely unqualified intooffice because they consider it a solution to their current dilemma.Willy had told his son Biff that everything is possible for anybodyjust and all they have to do is to make sure they are “well-liked.”The electorate is accustomed to the narrative of the American dream,which also considers all dreams achievable in America as long as oneis ready to work towards them. The reality, however, is that someAmericans are no longer able to achieve their dreams because theirformer past is no longer possible to relive but can only be imaginedor recreated as an illusion. The same way Willy cannot figure out whyhis relationship with his son Biff has suddenly changed for theworst, these Americans cannot understand how the old manufacturingjobs just disappeared and there seems to be no one able to bring themback.
Lindarepresents Donald Trump himself and other politicians from theconservative right. She is aware that Willy is completely unable tolive with the reality. He would rather reconstruct it and live in acomfortable illusion than contend with the reality. As a result, shedecides to protect Willy’s self-deception treat it as truth. Lindadoes so knowing that it would alienate her children, especially Biffwho is aware of his father’s false self-image. Trump’s victoryshows that the political class has decided to protect the false senseof the reality of a section of the electorate by aligning theirrhetoric to it. They know that attempting to clarify the state ofaffairs would not be accepted and they decide to rip from it by usingit as a platform to run for office. An independent reader wouldinterpret Willy’s decision to commit suicide as an irresponsibleact of taking the easy way out just as they would interpret Trump’svictory as an easy way out of a situation that needs more sobrietythan intolerance and rhetoric.
Thevictory of Donald Trump on election night presents a lot to learnabout the effects of self-denial. The rejection of his victory by asection of the electorate is no different from the rejection of thechanging of structural economic changes by his supporters. Like theLoman family in the play “Death of a Salesman,” America isengulfed in a state of self-denial amid a reality sparked by therefusal of many Americans to get over the glorious past and rethinkabout the ways to shape the future. In the long run, many mistakessuch as electing people like Donald Trump could be likened to theattempted suicides by Willy until his real suicide. Hopefully,America’s sense of denial will not amount to self-destruction inthe near future.
Remnick,David. "An American Tragedy". TheNew Yorker2016. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/an-american-tragedy-2.Accessed 27 November 2016.
Miller,Arthur. TheDeath of a Salesman.15 March, 2012: Ethel Barimore Theatre, 2012.