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How does Arthur Miller portray the dramatic significance of Willy Loman's meeting with Howard in Act 2 of death of A Saleman?

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Introduction

DEATH OF A SALESMAN COURSEWORK "How does Arthur Miller portray the dramatic significance of Willy Loman's meeting with Howard in Act 2?" From the beginning of this scene, the audience know that the tone is going to be in contrast to Act 1. The first thing they hear is the sound of 'gay and bright' music, so immediately, they know that something different is about to happen. Prior to his meeting with Howard, Willy is talking to his wife, Linda, in the kitchen of their house. Willy has had a good night's sleep and is well rested. He is in a good mood and finally feels life is going his way. He is looking to the future, something he has not done for a long time, and is even contemplating starting to grow vegetables again, "Gee, on the way home tonight I'd like to buy some seeds" His two sons have decided on a job idea, which also makes Willy feel excited. This, and the fact that Biff and Happy are going to treat their father to a meal in the evening, increases Willy's excitement even more. The audience are carried along on Willy's tide of optimism and hope that everything will turn out well for Willy. We also learn in this scene that they only have one more payment to make until they own their house. This is the first time that the play has reached a positive state without having negative undertones and Willy believes that things can now only go right for him and that life will only get better. ...read more.

Middle

"If I had a slot, I'd slam you right in, but I don't have a single solitary slot." Willy would like to think that he has been a part of the American Dream, just like Howard, "I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in commissions" but all it has done is destroy him and his family. He begins to realise that the dream is false and the audience sense his increasing desperation. "There were promises made across this desk" Willy tells Howard, in an effort to make him feel guilty. From his treatment of Willy in this scene, the audience will dislike Howard but realise that he is a product of the society he lives in and has helped to create. They will feel sorry for Willy and begin to question if living the American Dream is such a good thing. During this scene, Howard has a wire recorder and keeps making Willy listen to recordings he has made of his family. Miller makes the recorder significant as it shows the difference in wealth between Howard and Willy. By making Willy listen to his wife and children "Sh, this is my son", "Five years old", "The capital of Alabama is Montgomery"... Howard is showing Willy how good and intelligent his family are and makes him look like a much better parent than Willy. Howard is only interested in making money and being successful. The recorder is used as a symbol of his success in business. Howard can afford the latest and most expensive technology and uses it to make Willy feel even more inadequate. ...read more.

Conclusion

When he accidentally turns the tape recorder on, Willy becomes even more frightened' "he leaps away in fright shouting" and calls for Howard to shut it off. Up until the point of his meeting with Howard, Willy has appeared confident and in control. His inability to shut off the recorder makes the audience realise what a vulnerable character he is. It also shows the audience that Willy is out of touch with reality and while he desires these objects that are the symbols of success, he is unable to control them, just as he is unable to control his life. Miller's message in this passage is that there is no place for people like Willy. He is a 'dinosaur' who cannot readjust to the changes that are going on around him. He cannot even shut off a tape recorder because he does not know how it works. Miller leaves Willy in such a terrible state to emphasise the fact that the reality of Willy's situation has firmly and finally hit him between the eyes. At the beginning of Act 2, Willy is upbeat and confident that his meeting with Howard will go in his favour. The audience get a good sense of his positive attitude and hope for Willy's sake that everything will go according to plan. By the end of the extract, Willy's life is in ruins and the audience now feel sorry for Willy and are sympathetic towards him. They also know that Willy is in a state of complete despair and fear that something dreadful is going to happen to him. ?? ?? ?? ?? George Chapman ...read more.

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