"Death of a Salesman," is a play written in the mid-1900s by Arthur Miller. It was given several awards including the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1949, many, and New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play. Most of the story takes place in the home of Willy Loman in Brooklyn, New York. Willy, his wife Linda and their two sons Biff and Happy are what Miller uses to attack the materialistic aspects of the American Dream. Willy and his family believes that the American Dream identifies with a man in business acquiring material comforts offered by modern American life. Because of this flawed view, the family is troubled with the fact of not making as much money as their friends and family. Miller establishes character and relationships between Willy and members of his family through literary devices such as characterization, irony, and expressionism.
Miller establishes the main characters and their relationships by employing characterization. Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. At the beginning of the play, Miller introduces each of the characters. After introducing Biff, Miller introduces Happy, who in contrast, is successful and more productive in life. The author introduces Happy as "tall, powerfully made, sexuality is like a visible color on him, or a scent that many women have discovered (Miller 8)." Through this characterization we can see that Happy is the more favorable out of the two sons. However, Willy favors Biff more than Happy. This factor somewhat contributes to why Happy is always trying to gain Willy's attention and approval. It shows how Happy is always depreciated and always second in Willy eyes.
Additionally, Miller uses irony to establish the main characters and their relationships, specifically, Willy, his wife and children. Irony is the use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of its literal meaning.