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Death of a Salesman
Transcript of Death of a Salesman
By Emma Crockett & Amanda Tanthavong
Death of a Salesman Summary
The play centers around the Loman family. It takes place in the 1940's, which was during the Great Depression. Many families, along with the Loman's, suffered relationship issues that have been caused by economic hardships. The main character, Willy struggles to provide for his family and is still caught up in an unrealistic dream. His sons Happy & Biff live their lives with the same warped views as their father. These strains have led to a broken family.
Identifies class differences, economic status, & how the lower/working class are oppressed in life & literature
Karl Marx - German philosopher
Marx theory: believed that human societies progressed through class struggles & that there is conflict between the labor class and the wealthy class because the lower class is run by dictatorship (wealthy.)
An individuals position within a class hierarchy is determined by their job in society.
3 different classes - Capitalists: people who are considered rich. They own the means of production and purchase the labor power of others. -Workers: people who are considered poor. They don't own any means of production or the ability to purchase the labor power of others -Petite bourgeoisie: people who are considered middle class. They own sufficient means of production but do not purchase labor power.
Willy & Linda Loman
Death of a Salesman
, several class differences are identified. The Marxist Approach examines how the play portrays upper & lower classes that can be identified by the Marx theory as capitalists, workers,and petite bourgeoisie. In the class of the poor, sits the Loman family. They suffer from economic hardships that have affected their happiness, close relationships, and their status in society. However, characters that are classified as the upper class hold a higher economic status and obtain more authority and power (happiness.) Miller emphasizes economic issues involving how the lower class is treated by the upper.
Death of a Salesman
stresses the importance of how hard it was for the poor to achieve upper class status in order to provide for their loved ones and feel successful.
Narrator: "Before us is the salesman's house. We are aware of towering, angular shapes behind it, surrounding it on all sides. Only the blue light of the sky falls upon the house and forestage; the surrounding area shows an angry glow of orange. As more light appears, we see a solid vault of apartment houses around the small, fragile- seeming house. An air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality." (Miller 11)
setting develops the theme/tone
gives imagery of sky scrapers and cement surrounding the area making the family feel overwhelmed
represents feeling of being trapped & inability to be successful
the Loman home is an archetype for tragedy
where nature cannot grow (nothing can grow)
attack on industrialization
Past VS Present
Linda: "Don't say those things to him! Enough to be happy right here, right now. Why must everybody conquer the world? You're well liked, and the boys love you, and someday old man Wagner told him just the other day that if he keeps it up he'll be a member of the firm, didn't he, Willy?"
Willy: "Sure, sure. I am building something with this firm, Ben, and if a man is building something he must be on the right track, mustn't he?" (Miller 85).
Linda: "When he brought them business, when he was young, they were glad to see him. But now his old friends, the old buyers that loved him so and always found some order to hand him in a pinch, they're all dead or retired. He used to be able to make 6, 7 calls a day in Boston. Now he takes his valises out of the car and puts them back and takes them out again and hes exhausted. Instead of walking he talks now. He drives 700 miles, and when he gets there no one knows him anymore, no one welcomes him. And what goes through a mans mind driving 700 miles home without having earned a cent? Why shouldn't he talk to himself? Why? When he goes to Charley and borrows 50 dollars a week and pretends to me that its his pay?" (Miller 57).
in the past the family had hope
good relationships within family
Willy able to provide
hints that there is a chance of being able to advance in workforce
Biff & Happy look up to their father
in the present there is no hope within the family
Willy struggles to make ends meet
broken relationship has developed overtime with sons
blinded by reality and feels need to borrow money from Charley
Character VS Character
Willy & Biff vs Charley & Bernard
Linda: "Get out of here, both of you, and don't come back! I don't want you tormenting him anymore. Go one now, get your things together! Biff you can sleep in his apartment. Pick up this stuff, I'm not your maid anymore. Pick it up, you bum, you! You're a pair of animals! Not one, not another living soul would have had the cruelty to walk out on that man in a restaurant!" (Miller 124).
Charley *an arm on Bernard's shoulder*: "How do you like this kid? Gonna argue a case in front of the Supreme Court."
Willy: "No! The Supreme Court!"
Bernard: "I gotta run. Bye Dad!"
Charley: "Knock them dead, Bernard!" (Miller 95).
The relationship between Willy & Biff is damaged. Lost respect for each other
Biff left his father at the restaurant alone, would not have done that in the past
Charley & Bernard have perfect father/son relationship
Charley encourages and is proud of Bernard
Willy secretly feels jealous, sad, angry
Willy aware of Charley & Bernard's success in life, connects that to their relationship
Charley & Bernard's success and relationship is everything Willy wished for
Charley vs Howard
Charley: "Willy, what are you doing? What the hell is going on in your head?"
Willy: "Why? I'm simply..."
Charley: "I offered you a job. You can make 50 dollars a week and I won't send you on the road."
Willy: "I've got a job."
Charley: "Without pay? What kind of a job is a job without pay?" (Miller 96).
Howard: "Willy, you can't go to Boston for us."
Willy: "Why can't I go?"
Howard: " I don't want you to represent us. I've been meaning to tell you for a long time now."
Willy: "Howard, are you firing me?"
Howard: "I think you need a good long rest, Willy."
Howard: "And when you feel better, come back, and we'll see if we can work something out."
Willy: "But I gotta earn money, Howard." (Miller 83).
as a friend, Charley agrees to give Willy 50 dollars a week to help him
offers Willy a better job
example of a high class/powerful man helping the lower class
using power for good
Howard fires Willy with no sympathy, doesn't consider how it will affect his family
example of high class/powerful man mistreating the lower class
uses power for his own advantage
cares only about business
Willy: "That's just what I mean. Bernard can get the best marks in school but when he gets out in the business world you are going to be 5 times ahead of him. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer." (Miller 33).
Linda: "You shouldn't have criticized him, Willy, especially after he got off the train. You mustn't lose your temper with him."
Willy: "When the hell did I lose my temper? I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?" (Miller 15).
tackles large issue regarding the American Dream
Willy believed that in order to be successful you must be well liked/popular
never enforced good values in his children (get good grades, be honest, etc)
believed having a better life came from earning money/having power
Willy is trapped in an unrealistic dream which affects Biff & Happy
consumes their life
unknowingly Happy is falling into same path as his father
Frye Theories in D.O.A.S
"There’s always some literary reason for using them, and that means something in human life that they correspond to or represent" (Frye 37).
Willy: "Tell me, is there a seed store in the neighborhood?"
Stanley: "Seeds? You mean like to plant?"
Willy: "Yes. Carrots, peas..."
Stanley: "Well there's a hardware store on 6th avenue, but it may be too late now."
Willy: "Oh I better hurry. I've got to get some seeds right away. Nothings planted." (Miller 122).
The seeds is a representation of the Loman family and an attack on the economy. The family struggles to achieve any higher than what they currently are. Willy is constantly planting seeds in an effort to make something out of nothing.The symbol of seeds allow the readers to understand what Miller is trying to prove. Economic hardships during the 1940s, right after the great depression, made it hard for families like the Lomans to survive.
2. Vertical Perspective
"So you soon realize that there’s a difference between the world you’re living in and the world you want to live in" (Frye 5).
Happy: "Wait a minute! I got an idea. Come here, Biff, lets talk this over now, lets talk some sense here. When I was down in Florida last time, I thought of a great idea to sell sporting goods. It just came back to me. You and I, Biff, we have a line, the Loman line. We train a couple of weeks, and put on a couple of exhibitions, see?"
Willy: "That's an idea!" (Miller 63).
The Loman family is stuck in a wish fufillment dream. They imagine and discuss a world they want to live in. Considering the economic issues present in the play, it would be very difficult to begin a sporting goods line that easily, especially for a lower class family. However, the Loman's use this dream to escape from reality.
Lower Class: $15,000- $30,000
Middle Class: $30,000- $70,000
Upper Class: $70,000- $100,000
1. What factors contributed to Bernard's success over Biff & Happy's?
2. Do you agree with Howard's choice to fire Willy? Do you believe he was doing what he thought was best?
3. What clues in the play classified the Loman's as lower class?
Death of a Salesman
, Miller highlights economic struggles and class differences, which is known as the Marxist approach. Miller connects hardships present in the economy during the 1940's with the affects it has on families, just like the Lomans. Through the setting of the play, the past and present lifestyles of the characters, the difference between economic statuses, and the idea of the American dream, Miller demonstrates the struggles involved in achieving higher economic status and an overall happier life.