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Textual Analysis of the Final Scene of 'Death Of a Salesman'.

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Introduction

AS English Literature Coursework: Textual Analysis of the Final Scene of 'Death Of a Salesmen' 'Death of a Salesmen' is a play that examines in painful detail American life and consumerism. Its author, Arthur Miller, defines his aim in writing the play as being 'to set forth what happens when a man does not have a grip on the senses of life'. In this, the final scene, there is an unravelling of some of the major themes of the play. In particular, aspects of the characters of Willy and Biff are dramatically highlighted, together with the tensions in their relationship which reach a climax in the play's denouement. In this scene Willy is portrayed as a character who is overly ambitious for his son to succeed in the business world, in the way that he himself has not. He refuses to accept that Biff cannot fulfil these dreams, neither for himself nor for his father. No matter what Biff says to try and convince him otherwise Willy persists: "The door to your life is wide open!" This demonstrates that he is very obstinate in refusing to acknowledge the reality of Biff's situation. Furthermore, he is shown to be a cruel man in his response to Biff's decision to leave the house never to return for the benefit of the family: "May you rot in hell if you leave this house!" ...read more.

Middle

This indicates a mature understanding of himself and the world around him than he showed at the beginning of the play. Furthermore, he is shown to be a genuine man in his response to Willy's harsh accusations stating that Biff holds him accountable for his own lack of success in life: "I'm not blaming it on you!" The fact that Biff does not lose his temper here and lash out reveals sensitivity to his father, trying not to argue with him because it would cause too much pain. However, although Biff is determined to avoid further conflict with his father, he becomes distraught as a result of Willy's repeated provocations eventually confronting him about the issue he has been trying to conceal: '"All right, phoney! Then let's lay it on the line." [He whips the rubber tube out of his pocket and puts it on the table.]'. Biff reveals his awareness of his father's intention to commit suicide in a desperate bid to save his father's life and ensure that Happy and his mother acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. Fundamentally, Biff is depicted as a caring and loving man: '[...he breaks down, sobbing, holding on to Willy...]', showing that he does love his father very much and that he is leaving the house for the good of the family. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, Willy's dishonesty in his words is mirrored by Biff's actual dishonesty in stealing which started with the football incident in his childhood. In this extract Biff says: "I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for?". This is a pivotal moment for Biff when he realises he can't fit into the image created for him by Willy but must find a way of working things out for himself. It's at this point that he becomes an adult and takes charge of the situation. This episode relates to the concerns of the play as a whole because, it is the climatic scene where the whole family has to face the truth. This is where Biff confronts Willy, which results in the end of their tumultuous relationship for, it enables Biff to be free from Willy's impossible optimism and unrealistic. This is the most important scene in the play as not only does it mark the turnaround in the crucial relationship between the two main characters but it also bears out the central theme of the play: "Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?". Biff is referring here to the fallacy of the American dream. Willy, of course can't "burn it" and "something happens" - he commits suicide. ...read more.

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