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It is often when a man finds himself against the society and an attempt to live up to this society only fails even as he tries harder. The society sets standards or norms that an individual is supposed to live up to, or try to achieve in his life. It can also set some conceptions that a man longs to achieve in their life. This thirst to live up to what the society has set as ideal can make a man live an unbearable life yet non-fulfilling one. Thus, the individual lives their life having society as their enemy only to finally give up and give in to death. This essay will review two works of literature; identify the theme of an individual against the society and how it has been portrayed in this works of literature.
Arthur miller was born in October 1915 in Harlem New York. Their family was wealthy but it later lost everything and they had to start from the bottom again. In fact, Miller would deliver bread before he went to school. He later joined the University of Michigan, where he majored in journalism. Miller's first play was first written while he was enrolled in the university and also working for the school paper. This play won him an award and with encouragement from his professor, he enrolled in playwright seminars. He has since written many plays with Death of a Salesman as one.
Death of a sales representative is a play that was first released in 1949. The play is about a sales representative named Willy Loman, who returns home from a failed business trip and who is at the verge of an emotional breakdown. Loman has two sons who are Biff and Happy who are in their thirties but seem to act like little children. Happy has a stable job but he is not given as much attention as Biff.
Happy convinces Biff to move back to New York and get a job there, which he agrees. Loman who is also tired of travelling decides to ask for a job in New York from his boss, which does not require him to travel. He is denied the job and he becomes angry and later looses the job. Biff too does not succeed to secure a job. They later meet up with their father and lie to him about Biff getting the job (Murphy 25). They later all return home to reconcile where Biff forgives his father for his mistake. Willy thinks that Biff has decided to become a businessman and he kills himself to leave him money to start his business.
The theme of the play is to show hoe a man struggles in the society and ends up killing himself for not achieving what the society had expected from them. Willy is a family man he has worked all his life as a sales representative travelling from place to place-making sales. He is able to acquire wealth but not enough yet; in fact, his family is in debt. He is seen having flashbacks, where he is talking to his brothers who have been successful.
Willy also wants the best for his sons especially Biff, whom he want to success and become a successful businessman (Murphy 38). This is not what Biff has in mind. At first, he decides not to succeed to simply punish his father for his mistakes, but later forgives him and tells him that he would not make a good businessperson. Willy does not get this and instead thinks that Biff has finally decided to become successful.
Willy is troubled by what has happened in his life, he has worked hard yet he has not achieved his dream. He is given a chance to take another job but he does not take it as he still believes in his dream. He later takes his own life after his dreams seem not to be achieved. He does this believing that Biff will find his dream using the money from his life insurance money. The writer intends to criticize the society and the strains that it present to a normal man, even bringing him to his downfall. He mainly wants to criticize the way the corporate in America treats people and forces them to fall.
In this drama, the individual is set in a position that he cannot help himself. He works hard to earn money or wealth but does not get to enjoy this wealth. This makes the individual so miserable with life to a point of even experiencing breakdown. This is what happens in society an individual pursuing their dreams but the society will not grant it or neither allow it. It continues to present the individual with obstacles. The individual tired of all the society decided to go into tragedy.
The drama is reviewed as a good work as Miller chooses to use an average person. This average person depicts and represented many in America who were undergoing through the same difficulties of trying to achieve their dreams only to fail. It showed that not only the high and powerful can experience downfall but also the average person. Miller was able to point out the flaws in the society that makes life difficult for normal men to a point of one taking their own life.
William Faulkner was born in September 1897 in Albany Mississippi his mother and grandmother are said to have been a great influence to him and to his writing. He attended the University of Mississippi, which he later dropped. He is known for his novels and short stories which he greatly included the southern culture. One of his short stories is A Rose for Emily, which is a work of fiction.
A rose for Emily is a story about Emily, whose father dies and leaves her with nothing. So as to avoid Emily getting embarrassed the mayor releases Emily from her taxes. In the first part a new government is seen in place wanting to collect tax from Emily who chases them away (Polk and Faulkner 72). In the second part it is described of how a horrible smell was coming from the house and how people wanted to find out what smelled.
In the third and fourth part, Emily meets Homer, a construction contractor. People in the town think that they are going to marry and they start to think that Emily will marry below her status. Homer and Emily's marriage does not happen and people start to think that they will never marry. Homer later disappears and is never to be seen (Polk and Faulkner 88). In the last section after Emily spending most of her life inside her house, she dies and people come to her funeral out of curiosity. They later discover her secret of how she had killed Homer and use to lie next to him.
The theme of an individual against society is clearly brought out. Emily is faced with the society judgment in each and everything that she does. After her father's dead, she is left to pretend that they are still wealthy to prevent the people from judging her. When she starts seeing Homer, they think that he will marry her, only to judge her of marrying below her standards. Emily is then forced to remain in her house until death, where she remains with Homer.
The society is always judging and can force an individual to levels that are so low. Emily must have resulted to killing Homer because she could not afford to undergo another humiliation before the people. She probably knew that Homer would not marry her and she would have to defend herself again before the people who were always judging her. William was trying to show how a society can push an individual to places that they had not wanted to go. He is criticizing the society for being too judgmental to a person, to even cause them their death long before they die.
The writer has greatly used death and how people react to death. Emily has experienced several deaths of those that she loved and tries to deny that they separate her from them. She is later forced to accept that death means an end, where she finally gives up her father's body. In Homer's death, Emily is able to keep him with her for long until her death. The body of Homer is finally discovered by the townspeople who had always been curious of what Emily hid in the house.
In the two literature works, the theme of an individual against the society has well being brought out. In the drama of the death of a sales representative, Willy is against an unknown society that makes it difficult for him to achieve his dreams and he ends up taking his life. In the fiction of a rose for Emily, the society is well known to her and it pushes her to commit actions that she did not want because of how she feared the people would judge her.
In conclusion, both writers have been able to bring out the aspect of an individual against a larger society. The individual does not have any choice but to give up because the society is too large to overcome it. This forces the individuals to finally let society have their way. Willy finally takes his life thinking that his life insurance money will help his family. Emily on the other hand remains in her house until her death and is forced to poison Homer so that he can remain with her and she can prevent herself from humiliation.