A Study of Death of a Salesman in the Light of Louis Althusser’s “Ideology”
Althusser’s work on “ideology” offers literary critics the possibility of an entirely new kind of literary criticism. It has offered a revolutionary theory of society in whose terms literature could be understood, and a politically significant rationale for doing so. In the light of his work, it seemed that literary criticism could for the first time become both scientifically true and politically radical. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society and introduce a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. What ideology creates in people’s minds is a sense of illusion of being important and also being free. The result of such an imposed thought is loss of identity which Althusser mentions as a process of turning individuals into subjects and the slaves of the system unconsciously. The core of all Miller’s works is fragmentation of the American society. He left for the history of theater, his great tragedy, Death of a Salesman, as an outstanding modern drama. Miller is an anomalous figure in the American theater, both reviled and exalted to the highest level for his work, often for the same reason. His themes are shaped more by social and political arguments than by the grieving of the human heart. Death of a Salesman mixes the tradition of social realism that informs most of Miller’s works with a more experimental structure that includes fluid leaps in time as the main character, Willy Loman, drifts into memories of his sons as teenagers and turns to be a victim of his own delusions of grandeur and obsession with success, which leads to failure. In this article an attempt is made to analyze Miller’s work the light of Althusser’s ideology, with reference to such new concepts as Interpellation (Subject), ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses), RSA (Repressive State Apparatus).
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