Monday, 23 May 2011

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

"Pop, I'm nothing! I'm nothing, Pop. Can't you understand that? There's no spite in it any more. I'm just what I am, that's all."

Sorry, but this write-up will be less of a literary review and more of a rambling personal reflection. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the author completely eschews with subtlety and is adamant to emphasize the failure of the American Dream. Nonetheless, the didacticism of the narrative does not mitigate Miller’s social, political and economic ideologies or the play’s core emotional resonance for that matter. The evil of capitalism and the blind pursuit of financial success as a meaningless endeavor capable of destroying lives are made abundantly clear.

Having read the play at this particular stage in my life was a real wake-up call. The play managed to reflect my own anxieties and failures in life regarding my current deplorable financial situation and bleak future. Sure, I have made many mistakes in the past but it is embarrassing and downright pathetic that at the age of 25 I am still working for minimum wage. This job has chipped away at my soul for seven years and left me empty without any hope to continue living. Similar to Willy Loman, I was deceived into thinking that working hard would allow the opportunity to move up in this business where I could establish a name for myself and earn respect from my employers. Wrong. They could not care less about me regardless of the dedication and the large amount of years put in working my tail off for them. I’m just another name on the peon payroll, a ghost that allows the cog in the machine to continue functioning. The familiar idiom of "keeping up with the Joneses" has never been an issue although recently I have become more self-conscious of my predicament. Most people I know around my age are well on their way to building a prosperous future for themselves, which largely stems from having an actual career that pays salary. They drive their own car and have a place of their own instead of living in their parent's basement. They have the luxury of purchasing whatever their heart desires. They can take vacations and travel the world. Many of them are even getting married or involved in a serious relationship. I understand that a large portion of my misery is a result of failing to graduate from college and similar to Biff, I’ve become a disappointment to my parents for not amounting to anything other than an incompetent deadbeat. Every work shift is struggle to refrain myself from committing suicide and that is usually a sign that it is time to find a new profession. I'd love to finally quit and tell my boss to go to hell but I’m stuck in a catch-22 situation. Without the proper education credentials, I am doomed to work other monotonous, perfunctory and degrading jobs that will not be any different. 

I am faced with two options: I could take the Willy Loman route and commit suicide for being a failure in life by making the mistake of conforming to the hypocrisies of the capitalist system. Or, I could be like Biff and find the strength to reject capitalism; try to do something positive with my life and find happiness despite the lack of a steady income. The latter sounds mighty appealing but I'm not sure if the wandering bohemian lifestyle is for me. Maybe it is about time I grew up and actually applied myself instead of being scared to move forward. Quitting my shitty job and finding a way to finish college would probably be a positive step in the right direction but then again, would such actions not be paradoxical, eventually leading me to become another working drone of the system? Ugh, I don't even know what the hell I am talking about anymore.

Read from May 20 to 22, 2011 

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