AP Lit, Per. 7
19 January 2015
Explication: Death of a Salesman, Act One, Lines 820-880
This passage allows us to make several assumptions about the main character, Willy, in a psychiatric way. Obviously irony is a major component of how Arthur Miller hints to these mental characteristics, but he also alludes to other concepts in the details of the stage directions and the seemingly unimportant lines of supporting characters. Upon examining the passage on pages 38 and 39 in the book, (25 and 26 in the pdf) it has become clear that most of WIlly’s problems can be traced back not to how he raised his own children, but back to his own childhood. The three key points of Willy’s youth are subtly given to us in this passage and highlighted with Miller’s use of irony.
This may just be an opinion, but Willy is pretty weak, and not just physically. In this passage he is seemingly dependant on people’s praise and of seeming important. The irony is that he is thriving off the praise of both his wife and mistress, although the two women could not be be more different in their temperament. His wife Linda assures Willy of his handsomeness and his excellent parenting, in her eyes, and The Woman, although her compliments are far less sincere, assures Willy of how she picked him of all the possible salesmen This is key because one of the main points of the entire play is Willy’s struggle with the fact that he is indeed not important anymore. This is ironic because it leads us to believe Willy to be this successful salesman, and we soon find that not to be true in the present day of the play.Willy’s need for reassurance of his importance is foreshadowing his lack of necessity in his future, and his lack of deserving praise in his future. The Woman, being more
manipulative, sees Willy’s weakness for compliments and used them to keep him addicted in a way to their affair. In the start of the passage Willy complains of being alone on the road, so...
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