To what extent does this passage reflect the tone, style and concerns of the play as a whole? In your answer you should: Respond with understanding to the text’s genre and period (AO2i) Analyse and evaluate Miller’s choices of form, structure and language to express meaning (AO3) At the opening of this scene the tone is sombre, filled with sadness, anger, frustration with even an underlying sense of relief. While all these feelings are present throughout the play they are intensified here, filtering from the characters into the audience, creating a real sense of tragedy and loss.
A vivid empathy is formed as we associate with Willy’s family member’s individual reactions to the “Death of a Salesman”. This scene is in a way a crossroads in the lives of Biff, Happy, Linda and Charley. They have had to cope and come to terms with the death of a loved one, what they learn from it and how they choose to live their lives after it is what makes the play relevant eternally. There are few stage directions, leaving the audience to concentrate more on the language, which in itself provides the real drama.
“Why didn’t anybody come? ” immediately arouses pathos, while “He only needed a little salary” reminds us that if Willy had been a little less proud he would have survived the play. There is also a feeling of calmness, in contrast with the urgency and madness portrayed in other scenes, by short staccato speech “Yes, We’ll sleep. Come on. Go to sleep, Hap. “. In this scene Willy already is asleep, and therefore in eternal rest.
Linda, the stereotypical loving and supporting wife and mother, is the “foundation” and “support” of the play, yet she cannot cope with or understand the loss of her husband, and she cannot cry, claiming it seems like he’s “just on another trip”. During the course of the play Linda’s method of dealing with problems is denial and avoidance, which rather than helping her husband only aids in his destruction. Examples of this are her blaming his glasses for his speeding, and most worryingly her ignoring his using the “rubber pipe” for a month, allowing him to slowly kill himself.
It is probably due to the fact that she never admitted to the foreboding signs of Willy’s suicide that she has trouble dealing with the reality in his death. Miller uses Linda to stress the fact that although the world didn’t value Willy Loman, she did and that despite his shortcomings he was loved. As she sobs “We’re free… We’re free” the irony of Willy’s speech comes back to haunt us, “Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it”.
The freedom does not only apply to the debts collected over the years, finally paid off, but to his release from his tortured world and hers from the “burden of the masculine ego”. (1) Even Willy can see that “the woman has suffered. ” she’s struggled to keep her two sons, one very selfish, the other “very lost” and Willy together, often sacrificing her own talents and energies. Charley, “the unsentimental, non-dreaming realist”(1) is exposed to be Willy’s only friend. He has become successful in business yet still stays ‘down to earth’, “He’s a man of few words, and they respect him”.
He seems to be able to understand and accept Willy’s suicide without bitterness or contempt, requesting that “Nobody dast blame this man”. Charley is possibly a symbol for Christianity within the play, as his main role is to sympathise and try to help Willy without judgement. His poetic speech adds to the reverence of the final speech and stresses Miller’s attempts to make Willy a universal tragic hero. Charley proves to be worthier of the title of the “touch-stone character” in the play than Linda, as he can understand better than anybody the trap that Willy fell into. “A salesman has got to dream boy. It comes with the territory. “