In the play ˜Death of a Salesman' by Arthur Miller, the playwright focuses on the theme of failure in a success oriented society. Willy Lowman was a failed salesman, who believed the propaganda of society only had room for winners. The play's theme demonstrates how ˜The American Dream' destroys people's lives by false promises. Miller's use of symbolism heightens the significance of this theme and is important to the larger context of the play.
˜Death of a Salesman' uses many symbols to help develop the play. The American West, Alaska, and the African Jungle represent the potential to be successful to Biff and Willy. Willy's father became successful in Alaska and his brother, Ben, became very wealthy in Africa. This shapes Willy's obsession with the commercial world and the city that has trapped him in an unpleasant reality. Alaska and the jungles of Africa symbolize Willy's failure, but the American West, symbolize Biff's potential for success. Biff is very content with working on farms and being in the country. Biff is very much a pioneer, he wants to escape Willy's delusions and not be a part of the commercial world. Unlike Willy, Biff, recognizes the importance of being an individual. .
Willy was unable to prove the worth of his labor because he wasn't an individual. Seeds represent the opportunity for Willy to prove the worth of his labor. The seeds symbolize Willy's desperation to leave something in the world when he passes. Willy feels that he has worked extremely hard his whole entire life, but has nothing to show for it. He fears that he won't be able to help his sons, Biff and Happy, just like his own father did. The seeds also represent the failure Willy had with Biff. Willy realizes that his all-American football star turned into a lazy guy. Willy feels like bad parenting skills are the reasoning behind Biff's failure.
In the play, they use a rubber hose as a stage prop to remind the audience of Willy's many suicide attempts.