Symbolism in Death of a salesman by Arthur Miller

Essay Topic:

The depth of the symbolism of Arthur Millers Death of a salesman.

Essay Questions:

What role do the seeds play in the the delivery of the general message of the novel?

Why did the diamonds become the symbol of wealth and the success in life on the novel?

Why do Lindas stocking become the symbol of marital infidelity?

Thesis Statement:

The symbolism of the seeds, the diamonds and the stockings is essential for the general concept of Arthur Millers Death of a salesman.


Introduction: Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman” has more to do with rationality than with feelings. The play reveals the depth of the analytical mind of Arthur Miller as he is inventive in his desire to describe the adequate reality of the characters. As Arthur Miller is way too literal and documental they play “Death of salesman” appears to be very real with its deep symbolic meaning.

The first symbol of the novel is represented by the seeds. Willy plants the seeds like crazy right before he commits suicide. In such a way he tries to prove that his whole life had a meaning; that he will leave something after him so people can remember him. Basically the seeds are Willy’s traces in this world. Growing vegetable is his last chance to feed the family and to cultivate something as his cultivation of the American Dream and Biffs’ cultivation turned out to be a failure. The second symbol of the play is diamonds. As the diamonds are something that wealthy parents pass to their children they become a symbol of wealth and the success in life. Another meaning of diamonds in the play is that after Willy refused to follow his brother Ben to Alaska diamonds made Ben’s fortune and Willy resulted to a be an unsuccessful salesman. They become the symbol of the hopes that never came to life and the missed opportunities. The only “diamond” that Willy is able to pass to his family after his death is the insurance that will keep his family up. In other words the American Dream is the “diamond” that Willy was not capable of gaining throughout his whole life. Willy creates his own version of this American Dream and truly believes that he has it all.

The third symbol of the play is Linda’s stockings which are held by Willy to the Woman. This transfer becomes the symbol of marital infidelity and Biff loosing trust in his father. Afterwards Willy is always concerned about Linda wearing new stockings as if it shows the well=being of the house, the family and marital relations. Linda’s new stocking become the symbol of the hopes for a better life and a part of Willy’s version of the American Dream.

Conclusion: It is very hard to underestimate the importance of the symbolism of the seeds, the diamonds and the stockings for the general concept of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman”. It is owing to these symbols the author is able to reveal his message to the reader and show the ill-version of the American Dream Willy Loman lived.


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