What Do the Flashbacks Sequences in ‘Death of a Salesman’ Contribute to Our Understanding of Willy Loman’s Character?
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The word expressionist has been applied to Arthur Miller as a playwright. This is relatively accurate as ‘Death of a Salesman’ features some of the early expressionist characteristics such as Miller dramatizing the sufferings of his characters. Willy is the character that suffers most and it is dramatized at different points in his life. For example when Willy is first made to work on commission and then is not even allowed to work on commission. Miller also likens his characters to mythic figures in history. An example of this is during the first flashback Willy compares Biff and Happy to the mythical Greek figures Adonis and Hercules. He does this because Willy believes the boys are the pinnacle of 'personal attractiveness', to him they…show more content… He tries to kill himself by inhaling gas. This is ironic as gas is a necessity that Willy strives to provide his family with. Literal death by inhaling gas parallels the metaphorical death Wily feels to afford such a basic necessity.
Willy’s strange feelings towards the condition of Linda’s stockings is due to Willy giving new stockings to The Women in the Boston hotel room and his wife having to mend old stockings. This is a symbol of Willy’s false values. New stockings are important for both Willy’s pride in being financial successful and that he can provide for his Wife and his family. Providing new stockings for Linda also helps to ease Willy’s guilt and helps him suppress the memory of his betrayal of Linda and Biff. When Willy plants the seeds to prove to himself and his family the worth of his labor. He realizes that he has nothing to leave to children when he is dead and this saddens him because he knows he will not be able to help his children any more than his own abandoning father helped him. His attempt to grown vegetables signifies his shame about providing barely enough food for his family. The seeds also symbolize Willy’s failure as a parent. Although Willy believes the American dream will make Biff successful, Willy’s parenting has changed Biff from a successful American football player to a “lazy bum.”
During the first flashback Willy remembers a time when the boys were young. At the time when the boys were washing the car