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Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman - A detailed critical appreciation of Act I Sequence 9

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Introduction

Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman A detailed critical appreciation of Act I Sequence 9 From: p.37 "You're such a boy!" To: p.40 "He's dying, Biff" Death of a Salesman is "a love story between a man and his son, and in a crazy way between both of them and America". -Arthur Miller Linda is faced with a mother's dilemma: Does she love her husband more than she loves her sons? This is where the tension, which is apparent throughout the sequence, generates itself. However, she does not offer her love to the boys in competition with Willy's. Linda finds many of Willy's qualities to be admirable, whereas this is not true for the boys. She keeps a watchful eye on the family's expenses, therefore takes up the role of businesswoman of the house. She is, unlike Willy, quite in touch with reality: "One day you'll knock on this door and there'll be strange people here--" (p.37). This sequence is the first opportunity that Linda has to speak frankly to the boys about their father. She is worried, anxious, stereotypical and loyal, and seizes this particular moment to plead Willy's case as a father. She copes, but has no one to speak to about her troubles- this is the missing part of the relationship with Biff, Willy and Happy. ...read more.

Middle

Indeed, this is what Miller believes too. Biff has protected Linda from some truths about Willy, but it is obvious that this is a family where harsh truths are not spoken about: "We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house!" (p.100). Linda does not hate the boys, but they give her a reason to by not caring about Willy. Even when Linda tries to tell them off, she still slips in "My baby!" (p.40) or "My dear!" (p.39), and in so doing, illustrating her affection towards them. She wants the boys to pay their father proper respect and to settle down, but she doesn't expect anything of Willy. This raises the question of whether she is asking for too much from her boys and/or too little from Willy. Immediately after Linda criticises Willy, he interrupts the conversation. The timing of this interruption is important: It is probably the worst time that Willy could interject because it contradicts what Linda has just said. Linda has just been saying to Biff and Happy how they must pay Willy respect and that he is not the easiest person to get along with, when Willy interjects: "(with a laugh) Hey, hey, Biffo!" (p.38). The comment is important in two ways: Firstly, it represents the voices from the past inside Willy's head, but it also gets Biff angry and frustrated with his father. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the third mood is quite different to the previous two. The last line: "He's dying, Biff" (p.40) is a shock to the characters and the audience, and establishes a very dramatic change of mood for Biff and Happy, as it is much more serious when dealing with someone's life. The comment really makes Biff and Happy sit up and take notice, as it is no longer simply about a mother rebuking her kids for being insensitive and selfish, it now puts Willy's life in their hands. This comment manages to unite all three characters with a collective concern for Willy. The last words in the play are given to Linda, one of the reasons being because of her realistic and colloquial language. There are no excessive over-the-top emotions and she never resorts to "Oh what a terrible life I've had", even though this may be what she thinks. In this way, Linda is similar to Charlie, because she just gets on with life, despite its plights and chores. It is important to note that Linda has believed everything that Willy has ever told her, so she was disappointed when there were no buyers at his funeral. She has always had immense respect for Willy, so by the end of the play, she sees him as some kind of defeated hero, 'defeated' by the cruelty of the world. Word count: 1,342 ?? ?? ?? ?? Sam Feller 6BM2 ...read more.

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