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

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Sam Feller                6BM2

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. Linda does not cry or use emotional blackmail to plead her case because it is not part of her character: “A threat, but only a threat, of tears” (p.38).

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Linda has a feet-on-the-ground approach to life. She puts up with Willy, despite his faults: “I know he’s not easy to get along with– nobody knows that better than me” (p.38). With every insult Biff throws at Willy, Linda always defends him, for example:

Linda: If you don’t have any feeling for him, then you can’t have any feeling for me.

Biff: Sure I can, Mom.

Linda: No. You can’t just come to see me, because I love him. […] He’s the dearest man in the world to me, and I won’t have anyone making him feel unwanted and low and blue.


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