Essay on Death of a Salesman Summary + American Dream

5925 Words Jan 28th, 2013 24 Pages
Act 1, Scene 1
Miller begins his play with a bedtime dialogue between Willy and his wife, Linda. Willy, an aging salesman, has just returned late from a business trip. Linda is very concerned, asking her husband if he had a car accident. Willy tiredly explains that indeed he did have a close call with his car, veering off the road on two occasionswhile enjoying the scenery. Though at first Linda thinks that it's a problem with the vehicle, eventually she attributes Willy's driving problems to his exhausted mind. When Willy explains that he's just been on vacation, she asserts, "But you didn't rest your mind. Your mind is overactive, and the mind is what counts, dear."
Miller uses this scene to show Willy's confusion. The aging
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Soon in becomes obvious that Happy is trying very hard to please his father, though Biff seems to receive all of Willy's attention. "I'm losing weight, you notice, Pop?" he asks his father. Yet Willy doesn't notice, choosing to talk to Biff instead.
When Willy learns that Biff has stolen a football from the high school, Willy shrugs it off, saying, "Coach'll probably congratulate you on your initiative." It seems nothing can get in the way of Willy's belief in Biff's success. This incident is just a further example of Willy's illusions about his sons. These illusions are continued when Willy later tells his boys that he's a great, successful businessman who one day will be rich like Uncle Charley. Yet unlike Charley, Willy intends to be "well liked." He brags about having friends all over the East Coast. "I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own," he exaggerates. It seems the idea of being liked is crucial to Willy's notion of success.
Yet these illusions begin to be disproved when Bernard, a neighbor and son of Charley, enters the scene, warning Willy that Biff won't graduate from high school if he doesn't study math. It soon becomes apparent that Biff is only a football hero, not a good student at all. Yet again, Willy shrugs off this shortcoming, telling his sons that personality is more important than smarts. He explains, "the man who makes an appearance in the

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