Outline Story of Death of a Salesman

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      In Death of a Salesman, Miller has made a successful attempt to coalesce the themes of social and personal tragedy. The story of Willy Loman represents the story of every individual entity and every single advertising agency comprising the American national life. Willy Loman’s credulousness is the cause of tragedy. He does not understand the fraud and profiteering motives of the commercial world around him. He takes everything that is advertised, at its face value. Willy is defeated by this commercialism, yet with his fall crumbles away an entire way of living. The play and Willy’s predicament achieve tragic poignancy. Miller weaves into Willy’s story, of the lower middle class American who lives his life on consolations for whom illusions are the only oasis in life that is almost a desert—a desert from which human values seem to have evaporated. This representative quality of the play makes it one of the most appealing and involving plays of any consequence in the. American theatre.

      When the play opens, Willy Loman comes back home from a trip on which he had set out; that very day he had gone out to explore the New England territory. We come to know that Willy had, lately developed the habit of talking to himself. He is always lost in his past and it is his past that he talks about when he talks to himself. That day, while driving his car, Willy had side-tracked from the road two or three times unaware of it all. It is a scared and frightened Willy who returns home and is pacified by Linda. Willy is aged sixty-three and was a salesman in Wagner’s company, all his life. At home, he tells himself that driving endlessly, meaninglessly was getting on his nerves and they (the company) would have to absorb him in New York itself.

      Willy had pinned his hopes on Biff before he came home from his last job. Biff was Willy’s favorite child, though Happy was comparatively more successful than Biff. Biff is aged thirty-four and he has yet to find himself. Willy has full confidence in Biff, that sooner or later, Biff would settle down in life. Because of his attractive personality and his athletic achievements, Biff raised high hopes in Willy. But Biff had never settled anywhere. He was a rolling stone. He has inherited some of his father’s qualities and like him, is a failure—perhaps a greater failure than Willy himself.

      Then we see Willy caught in serpentine maze of the past. Today’s stark realities coalesce and merge with the half forgotten episodes of the past. Today’s joy is overshadowed by the gloomy presences of the past and the past illumined by the luminous streaks of the present.

      Willy tries to analyze himself and his failure. He realizes that perhaps the initial mistake was not following his brother Ben into the jungles. Ben had asked Willy to join him but Willy could not—he was a Salesman. Though he was earning a very little amount, he told Ben that he would make the grade. Ben went into the jungles and came out a rich man.

      Willy was glad that his sons were well-liked; quite unlike Charley and his son Bernard who were liked but not well-liked. It was only at times that Willy got a bit worried about his boys. When his boys stole a football, a little lumber etc., he laughed it off saying that they did not mean any harm. It would not be noticed anyway, he thought.

      The day at Ebbel’s field was the last golden day for Biff. After the game, Willy had left for Boston. Biff suddenly burst on the scene where he saw Willy involved in a clandestine, adulterous affair with a woman. Biff had failed in Mathematics and wanted Willy to talk to the teacher and get his grade changed. Willy had to go to New York, but after being discovered, he left. Everything seemed to get shattered. Nothing was the same again.

      Happy was basking under the personality of the big brother. He was confident that Biff had all the potential to strike it rich and be something. It was only a matter of time he left.

      The day, Willy came back home, he had dreamt his greatest dream. He would ask Biff to get a loan from Bill Oliver and Willy himself would talk to Howard about his job. He already assumes that both would succeed and conceives of a happy dinner in a restaurant.

      But both the father and the son fail. Willy went to Charley after being fired by Howard. Charley offered him a job which Willy refused to accept.

      Willy somehow managed to reach for dinner. Biff’s failure was the last straw on the camel's back. Willy is completely broken now; Happy picks up two girls; Biff is unable to face Willy and both go out leaving Willy alone.

      Linda is furious when Biff and Happy reach home. She is all care and concern for Willy. There is confrontation between Willy and Biff in which rises out the callous realities from the covering of illusions.

      Finally, Biff breaks down. He cannot stand the strain anymore. Willy gets a consoling realization that Biff had loved him all through.

      Willy is left alone after the others move upstairs. He is thinking of Biff. He wants to make him a gift of twenty thousand dollars—his insurance money. Willy drives out crazily and kills himself.

      In the Requiem all the characters try to analyze, understand and eulogize the salesman—Willy Loman.

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