• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Death of a Salesman Discuss the significance of the flashbacks. Why are they included and what do we learn about the characters?

Extracts from this document...


Death of a Salesman Discuss the significance of the flashbacks. Why are they included and what do we learn about the characters? The flashbacks that we see in this play, 'Death of a salesman', are all coming from Willy Loman, the father of the the family and the main money earner. He brings mostly all of the money back to the family from his job as a salesman. We realise that this is a stressful situation for him because he has to earn enough for all four members of the family. From what he tells us he is a well liked man that does well in his job but we soon find out that he over-exaggerates about his popularity and his wealth as well. These flashbacks may be a way of Willy getting away from his troubles, a place that he can relax and re-live the good times that he has had before. The first Glimpse we get of Willy's flashbacks is when Happy and Biff are talking in their bedroom and below them they hear Willy mumble 'You gonna wash the engine Biff?'. Throughout the flashbacks we see that Willy most refers to Biff and the times he has had with Biff. ...read more.


He tells his kids that Uncle Charley is 'liked, but he's not - well liked', implying that he is more liked than Uncle Charley. Willy also tells his kids that he met the Mayor and that he sold a bill there. He once again over-exaggerates and tells his kids 'I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own', and that he has many friends. Willy wants to impress his kids and make them believe that he is a success and that he has done well in life, due to his values of popularity and other things that he tells them all the time. He is actually just giving them false hope of seeing these things because they will never become true. The kids admire their father and believe everything that he tells them. They see him as their role model and Biff wants to impress his father as well. He tells his father that in the game coming up he will 'break through for a touchdown' just for him. He wants to dedicate this one play to his father. We see that Willy does not value intelligence when Bernard comes into the play. ...read more.


If someone sees his wife walking around with mended stockings they will relate it to him and he does not want that. This is another chance for us to see Willy's values in life and he keeps on repeating them over and over again. The last flashback that we see in these particular scenes happens whilst Willy and Charley are playing a game of cards. Willy is talking to Ben whilst he is playing cards with Charley and Charley finds it hard to keep up with what Willy is saying. Willy is unwilling to accept help and has a self defence mechanism. Charley is more successful than Willy even though Willy said he was not well liked. Ben has turned up to see Willy's lifestyle, to see his success, or the lack of it. Willy does not want to face up to the truth and everyone around him is hiding him from it. He would really have loved to be like Ben but it has not happened for him. His values have not worked out and we see that he is kind of a failure. Everything that Willy has taught his sons wont help them in life because it has not worked for him. The flashbacks are just a way for him to escape of troubles in the present and go back to a place in the past where he was happy. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Arthur Miller section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Arthur Miller essays

  1. Is Biff the True Hero of Death of a Salesman?

    towards Willy's first born son Biff, "Not finding yourself at the age of thirty-four is a disgrace!" (pg5). This shows the realism that the American Dream has taken over Willy Loman's every reasonable thought and the pressure of his dream is put on the shoulders of all his family too.

  2. The function of flashbacks in Death of a Salesman.

    The handsomest.' She then goes on to say about their children and how Willy is an idol to them. This flashback brings in many emotions of the past and shows that although on the surface Willie's life is good that there still are downfalls.

  1. Death of a Salesman. 'Explore the relationship between Willy and his sons'

    A modern audience could identify immediately that Willy is suffering from acute depression, but in 1940's America he would just be viewed as 'losing it'. It is not accidental that Willy should be cast as a travelling salesman. The idea of travelling from place to place selling your wares demonstrates the old America.

  2. An Analysis of the Dramatic Impact of the Restaurant Scene in Death of a ...

    Biff, thinking it is spite and lashes out at his son, he quotes ?You rotten little louse, are you spiting me?? whereas Biff would never do that, because he loves his father and only wants to help him. Then Willy goes off into the washroom and talks to himself.

  1. Willy's First Flashback (Death of a Salesman)

    And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England...I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own... � Then reality creeps in and Willy cannot suppress it.

  2. Character Analysis - Willy Loman

    He then says about what is wrong with him and how people don't like him. This is exactly what Willy has been telling his sons is important to be successful. This shows that Willy's idea of how to become successful has not worked and shows again that this is a bad idea to be teaching to his sons.

  1. Examine the relationship between Willy and his sons in "Death of a Salesman"

    Happy lived in the shadow of Biff throughout his father's life. Whilst his brother was a champion athlete, Happy was no more than a nuisance whose constant attempts at gaining attention went unnoticed. Starved of attention, Happy appeared to crave love and affection and often made attention-seeking statements to get the approval of his parents.

  2. Examine Arthur Miller's presentation of the characters of Charley and Bernard in "Death of ...

    (pg68), "oh Biff you promised me" (pg68). These are the only times we see Bernard as a youngster interacting with the Loman family. However, this is not all we see of Bernard in the play, as on page 70 Miller reintroduces us to him while he is sat whistling in his father's office "Bernard now mature sits whistling to himself.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work