The Death of a Salesman contains various Marxist ideologies and beliefs. Marxists believe that capitalism leads to greed and corruption due to uncontrollable consumerism. Consumerism arose during the Industrial Revolution, an event that led to products that were no longer being crafted by hand. In the play, Willy is obsessed and consumed by capitalist ideals. Willy stated, ‘Be liked and you will never want’ (Miller, 33). Money, power, and social standing are Willy’s top priorities in life. On the other hand, Biff does not care about these things. Biff wants to work on a farm and make things with his hands. Willy strives to achieve the typical ‘American Dream,’ however he gets too wrapped up in the illusions of success. A constant theme in the play is the idea of money and popularity leading to indefinite happiness, but the superficiality and shallowness of the characters and society are revealed.
Socioeconomically, the Loman’s are a part of the proletariat class. They are the working class and they are taken advantage of. The next class above, the bourgeoisie, oppress the proletariat class and determine their fate. The Wagner Company and Charley are a part of the bourgeoisie class. Willy and his family have no choice but to work for these people and live from pay check to pay check. Willy has a deep need to appear successful and achieve the American Dream, he buys things that he cannot afford with credit. In one scene, Willy brings home his paycheck and asks Linda what they owe. Linda replies, ‘Well, there’s nine-sixty for the washing machine. And for the vacuum cleaner there’s three and a half due on the fifteenth. Then the roof, you got twenty-one dollars remaining’ (Miller, 36). Willy attaches his self-worth to his material possessions and wealth. When these things begin to fail he feels like a failure.
Willy’s socioeconomic status is a problem for him because he tries to live a lifestyle that he cannot afford. To Willy, diamonds represent wealth. His brother, Ben, discovered diamonds in Alaska and become rich. Willy feels like a failure as a salesman compared to his brother’s wealth. Willy is haunted by the fact that he did not go to Alaska with his brother and pursue the American Dream. *quote about Alaska* At the end of the play, Ben encourages Willy to go into the ‘jungle’ and retrieve his ‘diamond’, which was life insurance money. Willy felt that his life was more meaningful if he gave his family money. It is easy to hate Willy for how he is so obsessed with the American Dream that he ruins his relationship with his family. This says a lot about his socioeconomic status and the economic situation. The same qualities Willy possesses can be found in people we know. These issues and their consequences are brought to light when doing a Marxist analyzation of the play. Willy tried to appear successful and wealthy, but instead he missed out on his family and had nothing.