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    playwrites

      The System

      and the American Dream

      *DEATH OF A SALESMAN*

      page2..Craig M. Garrison

      The next character, Willy Loman's wife Linda, is not part of the solution but rather part of the problem with this dysfunctional family and their inability to see things for what they really are. Louis Gordon is in agreement stating, "Linda, as the eternal wife and mother, the fixed point of affection both given and received, the woman who suffers and endures, is in many ways, the earth mother who embodies the play's ultimate moral value, love. But in the beautiful, ironic complexity of her creation, she is also Willy's and their sons' destroyer. In her love Linda has accepted Willy's Greatness and his dream, but while in her admiration for Willy her love is powerful and moving, in her admiration for his dreams, it is lethal. She encourages Willy's dream, yet she will not let him leave her for the New Continent, the only realm where the dream can be fulfilled. She want to reconcile father and son, but she attempts this in the context of Willy's false values. She cannot allow her sons to achieve that selfhood that involves denial of these values" (Gordon p. 316). Linda is also caught up in Willy's lies and therefore does nothing but help fuel the fire in the inferno of their dreams and ambitions. She lets this whole masquerade continue right in front of her instead of doing something to stop their out of control lies.

      Also, Biff the oldest son, continues to search for his purpose in life. Due mainly to all the "hot air" Willy always feeds him, Biff continues to stumble in his fight for life. Biff has never had the ability to hold down a job very long due to his inability to take orders and do his time in the trenches before becoming a success at a particular job.

      Richard J. Foster states, "Biff, who in the play as an amplification or reflection of Willy's problems, has been nurtured on Willy's dreams, too. But he has been forced to see the truth. And it is the truth—his father's cheap philandering—in its impact on a nature already weakened by a diet of illusion that in turn paralyzes him. Biff and Willy are two versons of the idealist, or "drealmer" may be a better work, paralyzed by reality: Biff by the effects of disillusionment, Willy by the effects of the illusions themselves. This is how they sum themsleves up at the end of the play, just before Willy's suicide: "Pop ! Biff cries, "I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!" "I am not a dime a dozen!" Willy answers in rage. "I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!" And the tragedy—if it is tragedy—is that they are both right (Foster p. 316).


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