April 28, 2005

Death of a Salesman Presentation

Title: Memories of the Past

Intro and Thesis: Several themes exist within Arthur Miller’s classic play, Death of a Salesman. Upon first reading the play, one notices Willy Loman’s tumultuous relationship with his son Biff, the allusion of the American Dream, and Linda’s unique role as wife, mother, and overall protector of the household. Yet less obvious conclusions can be found as well. Central to the play are Willy’s flashbacks or “hallucinations” to his past. These periodic glimpses into the history of Willy and the Loman family provide more than just a literary element. Willy’s flashbacks can be interpreted as much more; as a representation of his guilt felt for things he did, and did not, accomplish in his life. The flashbacks take on a psychological aspect, encompassing the notion of repressed memories and the feelings of shame and guilt. The flashbacks in Death of a Salesman serve more than just detailing the history of Willy but also show the painful memories he has tried to repress throughout the years. These memories stand for his feelings of longing for the life he never had and the life he wishes he could forget.

Conclusion: Death of a Salesman provides an interesting glimpse into the American family during the late 1940s. The audience sees the troubles experienced by a man and his career, the plight of his wife, and the effect it has on his children. Yet upon closer examination, one can see the importance of the flashbacks or hallucinations in the play. The flashbacks are representations of Willy Loman’s repressed traumatic memories, recalled in the extreme form of a realistic hallucination. His feelings of guilt and pain are resurfaced throughout the play, showing the deeper layer of Willy.

Primary Source: “Don’t answer! Don’t answer!”- Miller

Secondary Sources:

The Burning Jungle: An Analysis Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
by Karl Harshbarger

“More and more he has been hallucinating openly, talking so that others can hear him, reliving or inventing scenes and people out of the past. The forces of his unconscious are pushing through his weakening defenses and will soon overwhelm him.”

“These hallucinations are not to be understood as dreams, but as expressions of hidden wishes.”

Major Literary Characters: Willy Loman
Edited by Harold Bloom

“It is Loman’s psychic poverty that appeals to us, that nearly overwhelm us. Essentially a dreamer, Willy is fated to dream only dreams of guilt, the guilt of a bad father and a bad husband who wanted only to be the best of fathers and the best of husbands.”

Posted by VanessaKolberg at April 28, 2005 11:20 PM | TrackBack

this helped me on my essay, thanks alot

Posted by: d at February 2, 2006 9:19 PM

this helped....more info would b totally cool!!

Posted by: curious210 at May 21, 2007 7:03 PM
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