In this scene, Linda also talks about the house being empty now, without Willy, and with the boys finally growing up and making something of themselves. Earlier in the play Willy and Linda are reminiscing about paying off their mortgage and bringing up their children, and Linda says ‘well, it served its purpose,’ referring to the boy’s childhoods. However, Willy is dismissive of this, questioning this achievement and wishing ‘if only Biff would take this house, and raise a family…
‘ At this point, Willy is still unhappy that his sons, and especially Biff, have never really been successful in their lives or careers, having had such promising starts. So, the house has gone from a home for the children and the family, to an empty home with only Linda. In my opinion, the most important part of this scene is the discussion of Willy’s dreams. Linda is a little excluded from this, partly due to the fact that she is still completely unaware of Willy’s affair, but there is enormous value in the comments of Charley and Biff. Happy is fierce in his determination to fight for his father’s legacy for the first time in the play.
Theme Of Death Of A Salesman
Biff believes that his father was a man of the soil, and was following the wrong dreams. In my opinion, Willy was following the wrong dreams, as I believe that he was following the stereotype of the “American Dream”, a successful businessman, a large house in suburbia, a big car and a perfect family. He seemed to feel that it was the dream that he had to follow, there was no other. I believe that what he really wanted was to live a simple life with his family, and to be respected and loved by all for what he was. However, Charley makes some very interesting arguments as well.
He says that ‘no man only needs a small salary’, indicating Willy’s stubborn pride, which is slowly diminishing as he begs Howard for his job. Also, he does agree in part with Biff, saying that Willy ‘was a happy man with a batch of cement’ in reference to Willy’s simple and honest soul, that desired nothing more than an easy life. The most important point that Charley makes, however, is when he talks about the life that Willy has to lead. ‘For a salesman,’ he explains ‘there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine.
He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back- that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream boy, it comes with the territory. ‘ In my opinion, this is one of the most stirring and revealing speeches in the play, and shows a lot about the pressures that Willy was under. Charley is basically reiterating his point that this was the only dream that was available to Willy, and so he had to follow it.
Also, when Charley talks about spots on a hat, I believe that links can be seen to the change in Willy’s personality after Biff’s discovery of the affair. Willy becomes irritable, withdrawn and paranoid, and when a salesman has to sell himself to make a living, the consequences are bound to be disastrous. There are also some very strong links to earlier moments in the play in this scene. Just before his death, Willy became very concerned with planting seeds, or as I see it, forming a legacy to leave behind.
He seemed to realise that he was never as respected as he believed, and was so desperate to be remembered that he had to lay the foundations for life after Willy Loman. The seeds also have another aspect to them, in my opinion. To me, they represent the dream of a simple life. Earlier, in the play, we are told that nothing will grow in the dusty back yard because of the ‘hard’ apartment blocks that crowd the house. These apartments represent to me what might be called “The American Reality”, where this sense of adventure beyond the constraints of urban, restricted and repetitive life, is drowned out.
As I mentioned before, this sense of adventure is personified by the character Ben, who had been restrained while Willy had his job and was settled in his lifestyle. However, towards the end of his life, Ben re-emerges in a last desperate attempt to break through the barriers and restraints that have been set. On the stage at the end of the play, the scene is one of darkness and of false hope in my opinion. It basically sums up the harsh reality of Willy’s life.
This is done using the flute, which is present throughout the play, and to me represents the hiding of reality behind a false dream, such as when Willy returns to previous memories, when all was good, or so he could pretend. This flute appears in harsh contrast to the cold, hard reality of the daunting apartment blocks. These blocks represent the oppressive uniformity which has spelt the end for men like Willy Loman, men with character and spirit, not men who wanted to follow the same, stereotyped dream. Ironically, however, this is exactly what he had found himself doing for so many years.