The tragedy in 'Death of a Salesman' comes from an individual being crushed by a prevailing and merciless consumer culture. The "tragedy- of Willy Loman is the fact that he is not a good salesman, and his inability to face reality; he lives in his dreams that reveal his conscience and emotions. It was one of the first plays to question capitalist society and in a very general way the play is about America in the 1950s, focussing on a typical post war family. The play unravels the ideology of the "American Dream-; that you can start with nothing, but with hard work achieve success. The play is harshly critical of this and shows the aim, financial gain, is either misinterpreted as, or diminishes the value of personal success.

The key scene I have focused on is halfway through Act One. Previous to this it has briefly been established that Willy is pre-occupied with the past, that there is tension between him and his oldest son Biff, and that Linda; his wife, is caring and doting. There are already contrasts noticed; between brothers Biff and Happy's personalities, and the countryside ("it's so beautiful up there ( ) the trees are so thick, and the sun is warm.") and their city environment ("street is lined with cars. There's not a breath of fresh air in the neighbourhood."). Also, all men in the family seem to associate nature with an escape from their urban, commodity craving lives, and see this as happiness: Biff's previous job on a farm; Willy's memories of the boys as children tied in with "two beautiful elm trees- which were cut down; and Happy's desire to join his brother on a ranch. .

The first appearance of "The Woman- is interjected with Willy talking to Linda, the event that triggers his memory. Willy confesses to Linda that he is not "well-liked-, and she unsuccessfully tries to reassure him. He thanks her for her efforts, and begins to mumble, "he just gets so lonely-. As he says this The Woman's laughter filters through, and she then appears with light focussing on her alone.