Death of a Salesman Essays

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Death of a Salesman Essays

Death of a Salesman begins with a scene calculated to arouse suspense and tension. Linda's calling Willy "with trepidation" keys the audience to the mood. It soon learns of Willy's inner turmoil and his determination to ask his boss for work in the New York office. This scene presents Willy in a highly dramatic situation resulting from worry about his job and foreshadows the various conflicts to come. The talk that follows about the boys, Biff in particular, indicates the standing conflict between Willy and Biff, though Willy admires Biff enormously. Obviously there was once great love between father and son. The audience wants to know why their relationship has changed. And then it learns that Willy's mind is affected by his troubles because he gets the past entangled with the present and often does not know where he is.

The following scene between Biff and Happy establishes their characters and their conflicts. Suspense is heightened when, in talking about Biff's difficulties with his father, Biff says other problems are depressing to Willy. Then Biff decides to see his old employer Bill Oliver about a job the next morning. Willy reminisces about the past and in a flash-back we see him with Biff and Happy as boys and with the woman in Boston. Charley interrupts this scene from the past and has a game of cards with Willy. But Willy's mind goes back into his dream world again and brings forth Uncle Ben, Willy's ghostly symbol of success and the ideal way of life. Charley leaves Willy in disgust, and Willy continues with his thoughts of Uncle Ben and the boys, Charley, Bernard, and Linda. Linda momentarily breaks off this drama of the mind by coming to Willy, but he goes out of the house still in his memories as Biff and Happy enter. Linda tells the boys about Willy's recent behavior, his now having a rubber hose behind the fuse box, and her fear that he is contemplating suicide. She blames the boys for not looking after him. Biff and Linda are seen in conflict about Willy. This comes to an end when Willy enters. The scene involving the four of them is one of excitement: Willy and Biff quarrel and then the boys present Biff's plan to see Oliver to borrow some money for setting Biff up in business. The scene ends with Willy's going to bed in comparative peace with Biff, and Biff goes to the basement to get the rubber hose.

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