Death Of Salesman

1101 WORDS

Death Of Salesman

In the play, " Death of a Salesman" , Arthur Miller depicts a typical
dysfunctional family. This is Arthur Miller's best-known and most important
problem play. It is a symbolic and in part expressionistic, and it challenges
the American values concerning success. Willy Loman is a salesman who after
thirty-four years of being on the road, is slowly starting to deteriorate
physically as well as mentally. Upon his being fired, Willy tries to understand
why he has failed as a salesman, a father, and as a husband. The word
"dysfunction" defined according to The American Heritage Dictionary is
"abnormal or impaired functioning". This definition paints a perfect
picture of the daily goings on in the Loman household. It can be said that the

Lomans are a dysfunctional family due to the lack of communication, respect, and
values. The basis for a good relationship is constant communication.

Communication was something the Lomans did not practice often, and when they
did, it usually ended in a shouting match. Willy has extremely poor listening
skills, which is the key component in communication. He constatnly talks over
people, and always interrupts whoever is speaking. When Willy went to talk to

Howard about getting a job in New York, and not traveling anymore was a perfect
example of Willy's poor communication skills. Whenever Howard would start to say
anything that Willy didn't think was in his favor, Willy would talk over Howard.

Page 2 When Howard left Willy alone in the office to greet other people outside,

Willy acknowledged this to himself, saying "What the hell did I say to him?

My God, I was yelling at him! How could I ?" ( Miller 1285). This is a
perfect example of Willy's lack of communication skills. It's well known that
parents' behavior influences their children. So it's no surprise that Biff lacks
communication skills also. Everyone in the family has a habit of interrupting
one another as evidenced in this exchange between Biff and Linda talking about

Willy's car accidents: Biff: What woman? Linda(simultaneously with Biff)
.....and this woman..... Linda: What? Biff: Nothing. Go ahead Linda: What did
you say? Biff: Nothing. I just said what woman? (Miller 1272). This is a typical
conversation in the Loman household; interrupting each other, not listening to
each other, and lack of interest in what one another are saying. Their lack of
communication is again apparent when Willy is getting ready for bed with Linda,
and he's instructing Biff on his conduct in his meeting with Bill Oliver the
next day. Linda cuts him off, and Willy responds "Will you let me
talk?", cutting Linda off in return. Biff then tells Willy not to yell at

Linda, which Willy responds to angrily and sarcastically " I wasn't
talking, was I ?" ( Miller 1276). This is a common path conversation takes
with any of the Lomans. All this points Page 3 to their lack of communication,
which will breed dysfunction in any atmosphere, especially in a family. Problems
communicating and a lack of respect are direct influences on each other. Lack of
respect for each other is another reason why the Lomans are a dysfunctional
family. Willy's lack of respect for his wife is obvious, due to the fact that he
cheats on her during his business trips and thinks nothing of it. When he's
caught cheating on Linda by Biff, Willy explains it's because he gets lonely,
and tells Biff "when you grow up, you'll understand about these things. You
mustn't overemphasize a thing like this." (Miller 1306). Willy only cared
that he was caught, he didn't think there was anything wrong with the cheating
itself. Further, more convincing evidence of the lack of respect existing in the
family occurred when Willy met Happy and Biff at the restaurant the day of

Biff's meeting with Bill Oliver. This was also the day Willy was fired by

Howard. Willy strated having one of his dilusional episodes, and went into the
bathroom. Biff and Happy got into an argument about Happy's apparent disregard
for Willy, and Biff stormed out of the restaurant. Happy leaves with the two
women while Willy is still in the bathroom, in the middle of a flashback. When
the woman asks him about his father, happy replies, "No, that's not my
father. He's just some guy." (Miller 1303). This is evidence of the
ultimate disrespect ; Happy's not willing to admit that Willy is actually his
father. Taking into account the state Willy is in Page 4 when Happy leaves, this

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