Death of a Salesman

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The Dysfunctional Family
In Arthur Miller's drama, "Death of a Salesman" the protagonist is a sixty-year-old salesperson by the name of Willy Loman. Willy suffers from self-delusion and is obsessed with the desire to succeed. Willy's actions strongly influence his family, which contributes to their self-delusions. Willy's wife Linda is an enabler and is codependent upon him. Linda encourages and participates in Willy's delusions. She is unselfish and her life revolves around Willy and their two boys Biff and Happy. The Lomans are definitely a dysfunctional family due to their lack of communication, respect, and morals.

The basis for any healthy relationship is communication. Communication is something the Lomans do not practice often, and when they do, it usually ends in a shouting match. Willy has extremely poor listening skills, which is an important part of communication. When Willy goes to speak with Howard about getting a job in New York, Willy would talk over Howard whenever he would say anything that Willy did not want to hear. Howard leaves Willy in the office alone to greet people outside. Willy then notices this himself saying, "Pull myself together! What the hell did I say to him? My God, I was yelling at him! How could I!" (Miller 1350; all page references are to the class text, The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, 5 th ed.). Willy however, is not the only member of the Loman family with problems communicating. Everyone in the family has a habit of interrupting one another, this is obvious when Biff and Linda are talking about Willy's car accidents: "Biff :( sharply but contained): What woman? (Linda simultaneously):…and this woman…Linda: What? Biff: Nothing. Go ahead. Linda: What did you say? Biff: Nothing. I just said what woman?" (Miller 1339). This is a normal conversation in the Loman household interrupting each other, not listening to each other, and lack of interest in what one another are saying.

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