Desire in Death of a Salesman

Artists and writers like Arthur Miller, dissatisfied with the status quo, were influenced by existential philosophy and Freudian psychology, both of which took off in popularity during the post-WWII years. Death of a Salesman is a scathing criticism of the American Dream, which stated that success was equated with the collection of material goods and social acceptance. Miller, like many post-modern writers, was captivated by the psychology of Sigmund Freud, which defined human existence through the human consciousness. The Death of a Salesman has been heavily influenced by psychoanalysis as described by Freud. Salesman was analyzed by psychoanalysts almost immediately after its debut on Broadway in 1949. According to Susan Haedicke, literary scholars have always been fascinated with the psychological processes of the Lomans and have analyzed the play in purely psychoanalytical terms. As a matter of fact, many of Miller’s plays tend to lend themselves well to Freudian analysis. Willy Loman’s flashbacks, for example, are a type of dreams and full of Freudian potential. They have been discussed at length and are the cause of Willy’s friends and family’s concern for his sanity throughout the play.