Death of a Salesman Summary

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Death of a salesman plot development
(I have artificially broken up act one into logical scenes, and while there are no clear markers of scene boundary they are often characterised between alternating between the illusory/nostalgic and the real.

[scene 1&2 are the ‘thesis (p1-20) where Loman family present is presented, the antithesis is scene 3, 20-31, where Loman family past is shown to be harmonious as opposed to beleaguered and unemployed.]

Scene1, Willy is losing

•Willy enters, having been unable to continue work as he was unable to drive. Linda's concern is evident. •Apparently Willy just seems to forget where he is or what he is doing there and ‘zoned-out' "suddenly I'm going sixty miles an hour and I can't remember the last five minutes. •Linda cares for Willy with tender love that can only have been developed through years of marriage – take and aspirin etc. •While describing the journey Willy states "I opened the windshield…" only later to discover the windshield doesn't open and that he was remembering the old car. •Willy also gets excited when he talks of working tomorrow "Goddamit, I could sell them!," and puts back on his jacket…which Linda (tenderly once again) removes •During this scene Willy talks about lots of things that would have eventually happened had circumstances not changed…i.e. if old man Wagner didn't die Willy thinks he's be in charge of New York. •Also during this scene Willy says many things then contradicts them later…(e.g. the windshield, "Biff is a lazy bum" then "and such a hard worker…"there's one thing about Biff, he's not lazy." •Willy complains about cheese, then about "the way they boxed us in here, bricks and windows, windows and bricks." The city is encroaching on Willy's house, just like the stress of the world is beginning to win over Willy's grasp of reality… "population is getting out of control. The competition is maddening." •At the end of the scene Willy is brought to realise the windshields don't open – the flute cuts in. Willy further reminisces as he leaves the bedrrom to go to the kitchen

Scene two (p14): Bedroom dialogue between Biff and Happy.
•Happy and Biff discuss Willy's current state of mind, "he stops at green lights and when it turns red he goes" •Even then they reminisce about the god old days "about 500 women would like to know what was said in this room" •Happy questions Biff about what happened between him and dad, why he lost the old confidence •Biff alludes to "the woman" but does not mentions it – never mind just don't lay it all on me •Biff declares that the notion of money=success is not for him, but realises each spring that without money he's not going to get anywhere in life. Where as Happy apparently even with money is not satisfied and has to sleep with executives wives to feel good. They both decide they should be working in the open •Happy sates "it gets like bowling just keep knocking them over…(I long for) somebody with character. somebody lie mom. •Finally after a cigarette they retire, however before they do Biff talks about him and Happy working together in the country side on a ranch, he says that he'll see bill Oliver for a loan and try and buy a ranch. Scene 3 (p21): (set in past) journey to the centre of the earthly salesman- memories of Willy's past are presented •Willy seems Happy, giving instructions about cleaning the car "show him how to do it, Biff! You see,'re doin' all right Hap." •Willy here is preented as the good-hardworking father who gives advisce to his much-adoring sons. •Biff receives compliments far more then hap, hap seeks attention through "I'm losing weight pop, you notice?"

•Biff is not reprimanded for stealing but praised for initiative, then Willy declares he will one day own his own business and be bigger then uncle charley – (as always Willy is comparing himself to the next guy, and the next guy is usually charley) •Willy talks about how well liked...
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