Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
11. Willy believes the Capitalist promise that anyone who tries can make good in business. He feels that if he is "well liked" he will become successful, and he teaches this credo to his sons. When none of them becomes rich or popular, Willy, Biff, and Happy try shortcuts to success by bending the rules of proper business conduct. Then they lie to themselves and each other about how successful they are. (See section on Themes.)
12. Miller combined scenes from Willy's past and present. The scenes are acted on the same stage by the same people, dressed alternately as they are now and as they looked fifteen years earlier. Unlike flashbacks, the scenes from the past are actually happening in Willy's mind in the present. (See section on Point of View and Form.) --
13. Willy's paradoxical nature stems from his refusal to admit what his character is, and his insistence on trying to be someone he's not. Therefore, he works as a salesman but can't make any money at it. He will borrow money from Charley, but he won't take a job from him. He is good with his hands, but he won't view that as a measure of success. (See section on The Characters.)
14. Death of a Salesman is partly expressionistic. This means that many of the central ideas are conveyed through symbols. (See section on Influences.) Symbols involving nature versus the city are the flute, the leaf pattern cast by the stage lights, and the outlines of the towering apartment buildings. (See Notes on each of these.) Other symbols are the stockings Linda is mending while, unknown to her, Willy is giving new stockings to another woman; the sample cases Willy carries on in the first act and is asked to return when he is fired in Act II; the diamonds Ben found, and Willy's claim in Act II that "a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being rich," and the comparison of Willy's final "deal"- suicide-to a diamond.
15. Miller blends ordinary and poetic language. (See Language section.) He manages to reproduce a natural, colloquial American speech pattern that is colorful and memorable. The different characters and the poignancy of their situations are conveyed through the dialogue.