Death of a Salesman: Use of Memories and Hallucinations to Define Characters

Essay by LeeniexoxoHigh School, 11th gradeA-, April 2005

download word file, 7 pages 5.0

In the play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller recounts the story of a man named William Loman and his family. The story mainly concerns Willy's determination to become the success he once was and to pass on his success to his oldest son Biff. Written in both the present and the past, the story unravels via Willy's memories and hallucinations. Miller uses the past as a means of explaining what caused the characters to be the way they are in the present, as well as their present actions. The main characters defined are Willy and Biff.

Willy Loman is a salesman who views success as being well liked rather than being of monetary value. His past success dies down over the years and he refuses to accept it. He stubbornly believes his past of being well liked will drive him towards a better future.

"Willy: I'm talking about your father! There were promises made across this desk! [...]

I put thirty-four years into this firm, Howard, and now I can't pay my insurance! You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit! Now pay attention. Your father - in 1928 I had a big year. I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in commissions.

Howard: Now, Willy, you never averaged -

Willy: I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in the year of 1928! And your father came to me-or rather, I was in his office here-it was right over his desk-and he put his hand on my shoulder-" (pg. 61-62)

Willy tries to guilt Howard through Howard's father to help him move up in the world of selling. He tells Howard about his close relationship with Howard's father and how he is the one...