December 03, 2005

Funerals

"Ben, that funeral will be massive! They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old-timers with the strange license plates -- that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized -- I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey -- I am known, Ben, and he'll see it with his eyes once and for all."

This passage elucidates the nature of Willy's mind: he goes to his deathbed a salesman - with customers the world around, or so he thinks. It is in this instant, the reader or viewer realizes the tragic self that is Willy Loman. He is a low-man on the totem pole, replete of all supposed funeral voyeurs. However, it is in an illusion that he bases his beliefs. He has not come to terms with the truth: the truth that his career as a salesman is just as faded as Linda's need-to-be-darned silk stockings. This is probably the most poignant moment of the play.

Posted by KatieAikins at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

Spousal Thoughts

"I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person."

Linda laments the state that is Willy. She recognizes, clearly, what he was in his life time - and what he was not. Of course, to put such words out there in the open about one's spouse is a major feat, in and of itself. Here Linda is seen denouncing all that Willy was, yet, in the very same instance, she is calling to all to remmeber Willy for his being: human. Linda notes that he deserves treatment in line with whatever treatment anyone would afford to an achieved person - especially with the very precious state of mind Willy is in during the play.

Linda's call to afford her husband grace is a call to all of humanity to behave as and act like humans - with grace and unfledging support, especially in times of meltdown.

Posted by KatieAikins at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)

Miller and Tragedy

"More simply, when the question of tragedy in art in not at issue, we never hesitate to attribute to the well-placed and the exalted the very same mental processes as the lowly. And finally, if the exaltation of tragic action were truly a property of the high-bred character alone, it is inconceivable that the mass Of mankind should cherish tragedy above all other forms, let alone be capable of understanding it." (from Miller's essay on Tragedy)

Miller's essay calls to recognize the importance that our society places on tragedy as a genre. It is important that we not isolate this particular human emotion and attribute it to solely the upper-crust, in part because of its very stature as it has been placed literature over the centuries. It is best remembered that tragedy is a well-spring of emotion that can fill even the seemingly most insignificant of basins. Tragedy can flood any one person's life - because it is that flexible. The trickle down effect of this faction is seen in all social classes, especially in the world removed from literature. It is interesting to think that some people automatically correlate tragic action with the artistocracy. Perhaps this equation is because of the fact that tragedy, at higher levels of social class, can seemingly effect a more broad span of people. In reality, every day tragedy of the common person can effect just as many people - but perhaps in more subtle ways. Any of Hemingway's works showcase the fallout of Post-WWI on the lost generation. It is interesting to note that the grand-scale catastrophe, the War - tragic in nature, can inherently suffocate people's individual lives in such ways that are given to the abandonment of long established beliefs and ideals. Big tragedy, massive ripple effects - however, the effects were not just seen on the leadership, the institutions: the effects came back to the common people.

Literature throughout the 20th century shows a movement to elucidate tragedy in the lives' of people. In this semester alone, we've studied works that contain tragic elements. These elements aren't crushing the bourgeois, but rather stifling the proletariat.

Posted by KatieAikins at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)