Comparing Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson

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Comparing Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson have similar themes of conflicts between fathers and sons, conflicts between husbands and wives, and the need to focus on a small unit of space in order to achieve success. In the process of developing these themes throughout the two plays, three similar symbolic elements are used including the insecure father figure, the "other woman," and the garden.

The fathers in the two plays are comparable because they both have conflicts with their sons as a result of living in the past, and they die in the end. Willy, in Death of a Salesman, is never respected for his occupational status, so he
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Afraid I was gonna be better than you. All you ever did was try and make me scared of you" (1913). Although Cory is a skilled baseball player, Troy always discourages him from playing professionally. Troy is never given the chance to play because he is black, but athletics is a field that is fully open to blacks later, when Cory is ready to play. His father is unable to recognize this fact because he always lives in the memory of past events; he pressures Cory to be much better than all the white baseball players. This conflict is never really resolved because even at his father's funeral, Cory feels much resentment towards his father and almost does not attend the funeral. He has not yet separated himself from his father's dominance and is just beginning to "find a way to get rid of that shadow" (1918). Therefore, both of the insecure father figures make unrealistic demands on their sons until their sons are forced to separate themselves completely from their fathers' influence. While the role of the insecure father figure is to generate conflicts between fathers and sons, the role of the "other woman" is to spark another kind of conflict between husbands and wives.

In Death of a Salesman, although Linda never finds out about the Woman, her relationship with Willy is still affected by the Woman. For example, Willy says, "Will you stop mending stockings? At least while I'm in the house. It gets me nervous. I can't tell you" (1745).
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