Death of a salesman motifs

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Death of a salesman motifs

  1. 1. Death of a Salesman ~ Arthur Miller
  2. 2. <ul><li>Motif: </li></ul><ul><li>A recurring thought or idea that acts as a unifying element. </li></ul><ul><li>Develops as a commentary on themes or on characterization in the work. </li></ul>
  3. 3. #1) Vital in New England <ul><li>Willy’s perception: he’s needed as a salesman </li></ul><ul><li>The reality: he’s not good enough to get a job at the home office </li></ul>
  4. 4. #2) Debt <ul><li>Things are used up by the time they’re paid off (the house, the car) </li></ul>
  5. 5. #3) Boxed in <ul><li>“ Nothing will grow here.” </li></ul><ul><li>Life is actually closing in on Willy </li></ul>
  6. 6. #4) Personal attractiveness <ul><li>If you are well-liked, the whole world opens up to you </li></ul><ul><li>(this is Willy’s belief about success. Not that hard work gets one ahead, but that you need to be well-liked) </li></ul>
  7. 7. #5) Father/son relationships <ul><li>Biff’s attempts to get Willy’s approval </li></ul><ul><li>Happy is the unnoticed son; overshadowed by Biff </li></ul><ul><li>Willy doesn’t have healthy relationships with either of his sons </li></ul>
  8. 8. #6) Theft <ul><li>Willy’s morals are confused; tells Biff it’s okay to steal as long as you’re well-liked (football, carton of basketballs, lumber...) </li></ul>
  9. 9. # 7) Happy...isn’t <ul><li>Lives in the past and the future, but not in the present </li></ul><ul><li>Past: </li></ul><ul><li>Future: “I’m going to get married.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. #8) Silk stockings <ul><li>Willy gave the stockings he’d bought for Linda to the “woman” in Boston </li></ul><ul><li>Feels guilty every time he sees her mending stockings (which aren’t silk) </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, this is before nylons, so stockings were made of cotton, wool...or silk </li></ul>
  11. 11. #9) Ben <ul><li>Represents the success that eludes Willy </li></ul><ul><li>Willy’s ideal of what true success is: get rich quick </li></ul><ul><li>“ When I was 17 I walked into the jungle and when I was 21 I walked out and I was rich.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. #10) the flute <ul><li>Willy’s father made his own flutes then took his entire family with him to sell them; therefore it was an adventure </li></ul><ul><li>Willy sells things made and owned by others and leaves his family behind; therefore it is work </li></ul>

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