Death of a Salesman


Act 1: Scene 1 to 5

Act I: Scene 1

The play begins in the Loman household. Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, returns home after a sales trip. Linda asks him if he wrecked the car, and the casual way that she asks the question makes the audience aware that there is some problem with Willy driving. Willy is annoyed by her, but does not seem to think that her question is unwarranted. He tells her that he had problems concentrating while he was driving, and that he even forgot that he was driving. Willy knows that he is tired from the trip, but he is more than tired. He is concerned because he is having trouble concentrating on things. Linda Loman, his wife, tries to reassure him that he just needs a break from his job, but Willy suspects that it is more than that. She wants him to talk to his boss about getting a local sales position so that he will no longer have to travel. Willy does not believe that his boss, Howard, will give him a local position and does not want to ask him for one. However, Linda convinces him to approach Howard.

The two of the then discuss their son Biff. Willy’s opinion of Biff is low; he thinks that Biff is a bum who has failed to meet his potential. Linda does not think poorly of Biff. Willy then decides that Biff is okay and determines that he will try to get him a job as a salesman. This waffling is foreshadowing and characterizes the way that Willy will oscillate between admiration and disdain for Biff throughout the novel.

Willy then has a daydream about the past. Again, this foreshadows his behavior that will come during the play, in which he drifts from present to past and back again, sometimes unable to tell where and when he actually is. Much of the play focuses on the contrast between past and present, and Willy’s flitting back and forth between the past and the present reinforces the idea that Willy believes that his past behavior and successes should have ensured him continuing success in the present day. Willy begins by reminiscing about things in the past that he considers bright spots, but the bright...

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