Compare and Contrast
Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, is a 1949 play and deemed one of the classics of American theater. It is viewed by several people as a scathing assault on American Dream of attaining success and wealth without regard for principle. On the other hand, the A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is a play which debuted in 1959 on Broadway. The story is founded upon a family's experiences in growing up in the Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. It is the primary play with a black director and written by a black woman produced on Broadway.
The setting of the A Raisin in the Sun is an overcrowded apartment in an apartment building in the South Side of Chicago, which is the only setting in the play, between 1945 and 1959. Setting is among the most significant elements of the play, for the Youngers are endeavoring to purchase a new house in a different neighborhood. The current neighborhood and apartment of the Youngers attain particular significance. On the contrary, the play, Death of a Salesman, has three settings. The first is the house of Willy, which is a little house in New York enclosed by apartments. It is followed by a restaurant, where Stanley works and where the Lomans are supposed to have a dinner at the last part of the play. The last setting is in the hotel, where Willy resides while he is in New England for some business trips. It is the place where Biff sees his father in an affair. The play is set in the twentieth-century industrial civilization, with daydreams to Willy's past and which the entire act takes place in a twenty-four-hour time between Monday and Tuesday night, excluding the funeral song, which takes place, apparently, a few days following Willy's funeral. It was set in East Coast America, Willy's America, which is the land of chance in which ambitious young people. Both plays are set about in the 1950s, which is the time when the longing to be usual and to blend in was more keen than in preceding eras; when the aim was to be the ideal American family. It was a period when America had thrived by prevailing over prodigious enemies and hard times; and a time when numerous Americans were affluent and when racial questions were commencing to be raised.
Both plays have lots of themes. A Raisin in the Sun has faith, primacy of the family, evils of racial prejudice, and money cannot buy happiness as themes. Faith is shown in the play by Mama, for despite the grave social and economic problems, she persists to have faith on her family and their future; she even purchases a house for her family, as a result, her family learns to trust in themselves. Primacy of the family is also present, for success is gauged by the excellence of family life; and having a prestigious career and making money are significant, but not as significant as sustaining a happy home. Though Mama has been the superior figure at home, she defers her position and her insurance money in favor of her son to resolve a family problem. Mr. Lindner symbolizes the racially prejudiced section of society which held bend in America for a long time and persists to be a crisis in the U.S. today, shows the evils of racial prejudice. Walter believes that money is the solution to each of his problems, but money cannot buy happiness, and he learns in a hard way that just one currency can purchase happiness: integrity. The Death of a Salesman has the American Dream, abandonment, and betrayal as themes. The American dream is illustrated by Willy, who believes enthusiastically in the assurance of American Dream that a personally attractive and well liked man in business will deservedly and indubitably obtain the material soothes proffered by modern American life. His understanding of likeability is superficial, and his blind faith leads to his fast psychological turn down when he is incapable to admit the difference between his own life and the Dream. Willy's life charts a route from one abandonment up to the next, absconding him in greater misery each time. Willy and Bens father leaves them without any tangible or intangible legacy. Ben finally leaves Willy, who lose himself in a distort vision of American Dream. As a result, he develops fear of abandonment that mirrors his incapability to appreciate reality. Betrayal is also present in the play. Willy's main obsession all through the play is Biff's betrayal of his aspirations for him. He supposes that Biff's betrayal starts from Biff's detection of his affair with another woman, whereas, Biff feels that Willy has betrayed him with the endless flow of ego-stroking lies.
The characters of the A Raisin in the Sun are blacks, except for Mr. Lindner. The characters include Walter Lee Younger, Lena Younger or Mama, Ruth, Beneatha, Travis, Mr. Lindner, Joseph Agasai, George Murchison, Bobo, Willy, and Furniture Mover. On the other hand, the characters of the Death of a Salesman include Willy, Biff, Happy, Linda, Bernard, and Charley. Willy, the main character, carries into his adult years the childish ideals that being popular and very well-liked assured predictable success in life. He seems to feel that trendy judgment is everything and personal integrity is immaterial so long as nobody knows. Walter Lee, contrasting Willy, appears realistic adequately to have a vision of material pleasures rather far from what those pleasures designate about the worth of the individual who has them. His plans do not have the unacceptable moral premises as Willys. Walter Lee scrutinizes his values, then changes them; while, Willy never notices that what he seeks out is unworthy. In the two mothers, Linda Loman is stereotypical. She is a self-sacrificing, stay-at-home, self-effacing, mother whose utmost concern is the flimsy dignity and ego of her husband. Lena Younger, in contrast, is a common African-American matriarch; however, notwithstanding her strength and substantial power in the family, it appears that her late spouse was a chap to be esteemed in his own right.
The plant of mama, on the only window of the apartment, in the A Raisin in the Sun symbolizes mamas family, she cherishes it just as she cherishes the family; black Americans, the plant resists to live on with restricted contact to sunlight just like the struggle to survive with restricted opportunities of the blacks in the mid-19th Century; and hope, mama takes the plant to the new home, wherein she anticipates to thrive. The kitchen window, symbolizes the Younger family's trust or hope for a more dazzling future. The fifty cents represents the lawful needs money can purchase; while the one dollar represents the longing for material goods afar from these needs. The new house and garden represent hope, courage, and growth. In the Death of a Salesman, the stockings symbolize Willys infidelity and lack of compassionate for his own wife. The stolen lumber, symbolizes Willys recognition of stealing and inadequacy of appreciation with what actually goes on. The recorder symbolizes the achievement Willy trances he could have and desires he had. The tennis rackets is an ironic symbol of Bernards feat.
In the A Raisin in the Sun, Mrs. Johnson's information that a black family's residence has been exploded foreshadows the oppositions which the Clybourne Park Improvement Association raises to the thought of the moving in of the Youngers; the clues of Walter to Travis that he is empowering the insurance money foreshadow, also, the vanishing of the money; and Ruths faint foreshadows pregnancy, which she confirms later in the play. While, in the Death of a Salesman, Willys traffic accidents and possible suicide attempts, which his wife assumes, at the start, foreshadow the finish and aid to make it believable; Willy's flute idea foreshadows the disclosure of his father's abandonment and occupation; Willy's obsession with his wifes stockings foreshadows his illicit affair with The Woman.
The plays are affluent for comparison, for they scrutinize the topic of what it denotes to thrive in America, to the extent that the said plays treat identical themes, figures, and situations, set in roughly the similar time in the American history.