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Comparative study of William’s Glass Menagerie and Miller’s Death of a Salesman

I belong to an English Literature background and have a grip on critical analysis. I review Literary text and share understanding points.



Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller are the two major writers in American drama. They opened the eyes of individuals by focusing on the harsh realities of life and the true face of the American dream. Their writings reflect that people got stuck in dreams and memories to make a better future because of the lack of comprehension of life. The illusion of life makes them nostalgic, which ends up in an epoch tragedy.

William’s Glass Menagerie and Miller’s Death of the Salesman; deal with the modern man, who searched for dreams and is unable to accept the present. The protagonists were suffering from nostalgia, which became the leading cause of their failure.

The article builds around the comparison study that highlights the ambivalent life of protagonists who struggled for a bright future and rejected the historical grounds but failed to manage the current status, which resulted in the tragic end.


Willy, the protagonist in Death of a Salesman, and Amanda, the protagonist of Glass Menagerie, were not the “high born” children. They belonged to the American middle class and wished to get rid of it. Their common nostalgic mindset and epoch tragedy enable a reader to draw a comparison.

The characters meet the elements of epoch tragedy. It is different from Greek tragedies because the characters are not prideful like Greek mythological kings and have no flaws. They suffered to make a better future. The social class condescension made their life difficult.

Amanda wishes to rise out of her poor or vulgar status. She condemns and feels regretful for marrying Tom and Laura's dad.This aggressive behavior shows that he struggles to get rid of his social identity. Amanda tells her kids,

Death of Salesman: A stage play by Arthur Miller Kindle Edition

Industrialization and Great Depression

Industrialization and Great Depression affected their living conditions. The protagonists show resistance against the “inexorable forces of history” and struggle against the country's change.

Amanda Wingfield, the mother, represents herself as a daughter of the American Revolution. She has no historical roots - Amanda only keeps on making good lives for children. Amanda wishes for a pre-Civil War South life. Amanda claims, “Among my callers were some of the most prominent young planters of the Mississippi Delta--planters and sons of planters” (Williams 8).

Willy longs for 1890s America wants a Disneyland life. He claims, “There are more people! That's what's ruining this country! The population is getting out of control. The competition is maddening! Smell the stink from that apartment house! And another one on the other side . . .” (Miller 17). It shows that both the characters facing settlement issues in an industrialized area and missed the glorious past.

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Impact of History

History becomes a driving force in their tragic life. Willy Lowman, Death of a Salesman - was struggling in life to achieve their dreams. Both the characters wanted to get rid of historical chaos and cope with the post-World War II economic expansion.

The Great Depression left deep scars in their minds, while the unattainable longings were the tragic end of life. Although they were not psychologically ill, they have rejected the present life. The lost in chasing the dreams.

The dismemberment after World War II made middle-class life more vulnerable. It is visible through Amanda and Willy. American middle class has its fingers shoved down on “the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy” (Williams 5).

The economic issues cause more trouble. Willy cried at the death of his brother because he was the only economic support of the family. He claims that “how do we get back to all the great times?” (Miller 127).


The setting is similar in both the dramas. It reflects the bounded life of characters. The composition of the apartments represents the fragmented reality of life and dreams. “The Wingfield apartment is in the rear of the building, vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of the lower-middle-class population" (Williams 3).

On the other hand, the house of Lowman is described in a way “As more light appears, we see a solid vault of apartment houses around the small, fragile-seeming home” (Miller11). It alerts readers that something will happen.

Nostalgic Development of Characters

The characters were nourishing under harsh conditions which ultimately spoiled their memories. Tom Wingfield’s exposure to subject matter shows that “This play is memory”, and describes the “truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion” (Williams 5, 4). It shows that the illusionment of life made their life tragic. Characters start imitating dream reality but indirectly live nostalgically.

Amanda’s yearning for the good olds reflects the national nostalgia. Willy also revised the flashbacks that make him nostalgic. The composition of such elements illustrates the double-edged life of the characters.


To conclude, it is said that the authors does embody the searching man who was lost in distorted dreams and reality. The tremulous insecurities about the outer world and having nostalgia blurs the journey. It also ruined the presents. Character wishes for American dreams failed to meet the real demands in an industrialized world. The plays show that all that glitters are not gold. The reality lies deep in life.

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