Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller - Commentary p.84-87

Essay by ceyhan September 2004

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Between pages 84-87 Willy Loman has a serious conflict with the characters Linda and Ben. Using this conflict, Arthur Miller tries to aid the question of Willy Loman's failure. Using effective stage directions and dialogue, Miller gives the questioning audience more evidence that Willy will fail his job, hence his life.

After having a light quarrel with his boss, Willy starts slipping into his 'imaginary' world once more. Ben's theme music fades in while Ben appears on stage. Ben enters with a valise, and an umbrella, symbolizing Ben's sheltered lifestyle. This also symbolizes that Ben doesn't have a large burden, relative to Willy's large suitcases in the opening pages of the play. Ben seems to be the opposite of Willy; he has no burdens, has shelter, has money, and makes life look extremely easy as on page 84 Ben says "Doesn't take much time if you know what you're doing."

Ben is portrayed as a superior human being compared to Willy, and Ben seems to have the answers to life, however he doesn't exploit them. This contrast aids the audiences' thoughts of Willy's failure. Miller also adds that Ben is unemotional, arrogant, and doesn't have enough time for Willy. On page 84 Willy says "Ben, I've got to talk to you." This shows that Willy needs some advice from Ben; however Ben is in a hurry, and keeps looking at his watch. To make the conflict even greater, Miller brings in the character of Linda into the scene.

Linda enters the scene with the wash, and says "oh, your back" on page 85. This implies that Linda does not have the money to dress up nicely, and the way she says her comment is very negative, and also shows the tension between Ben and Linda. Ben proposes that Willy...