Death of a Salesman and Glengarry Ross are plays that have a similar theme. The plays are about salesmen and values that have been propagated by capitalism. For the characters in both plays, they interpret success by materialistic values. Besides the similarity, the plays show a different theme. Miller has a modernist view where he defends the notion of a modern tragic hero. He uses the audience to analyze the problem and create a situation. Mamet doesn’t portray his orientation towards the problem and only shows it to the audience for them to evaluate it. This shows that Miller’s play is a modern take on it while Mamet’s play is a postmodern reply.
In Death of a Salesman, the play is about Willy who is a salesman that has his mind wrapped around the idea of capitalism. To Willy, success is based off of wealth and material things. Even though he is married and has two kids, he engages in material affairs. The theme of modernity shows up in this play when it’s portrayed on how the system has ruined the meaning of an individual life. Will’s life revolved around being wealthy, which makes his life miserable and ruins his life with his wife and kids.
The theme of gender and morality in Miller’s play is used to bring out modernity. Miller shows how the system has excluded the female gender. The wife is at home doing housework, while Willy goes out to make money. Willy has affairs with other women and treats them better than he treats his wife. Willy’s kids follow in their father’s footsteps and get in relationships with women that they know they can’t marry and leave them.
Miller’s writing shows the capitalistic system that brings out the modern writing in his play. In Amy Sickels essay on “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: History of Criticism,” there’s multiple areas where she proves that Miller got bad reviews and critiques on his play. Anything that is against the standard of society is viewed as bad. Miller expressed the judgment on capitalism based off of what he considers to be right and what his point of view is.
In Glengarry Glen Ross, the play has a similar theme as Death of a Salesman. This play is about a salesman and him trying to get forward with his life. The salesmen goals are to get successful and become wealthy, where they associate success with wealth. Williamson is the office manager who takes money from the other salesman to give to the lead. Aaranow and Levene break into Williamson’s office in order to steal a contractor and take a deal from another salesman. Miller presents his play in a subjective way while Mamet presents his play in an objective way. Mamet’s approach to this problem is impersonal that brings on post modernism elements.
According to Bill Laney in his essay, he describes Mamet to be animalist writer. The play showed that there is no lasting reality. Mamet’s play also shows the capitalistic system, like Miller’s play. Unlike Miller, Mamet presents the capitalistic system as a comical way. Miller wrote to the audience and for the audience to interpret it. Mamet shows his feelings and says his message within the play. Postmodernism era focuses on objectivity writing and Mamet doesn’t take a position on the issue.
Miller’s take on the issue is to create an ideal situation. Miller’s message to Willy is that he should ignore material wealth and divert his attention to something else. Mamet’s approach is different compared to Miller. Mamet presents the problem to the audience but he doesn’t explain the problem fully. Unlike Miller who gives suggestions to the problems, Mamet doesn’t give any solutions. Mamet leaves it to the audience to evaluate the problem.
In conclusion, both plays have similar themes but they have different approaches on how to take on the theme, a modern and postmodern take. Miller uses modernism and Mamet uses postmodernism. Modernism writing presents issues on the point of view of the author. Miller says what’s wrong with capitalism and what should be done. Postmodernism presents the issues using an objective manner. Mamet doesn’t take a stand and he interprets the issue using the contexts and the truth varies from the context each time.