The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Last lesson we read the rest of "death of a salesman". We discussed the homework from the week before which was "who is responsible for the sons behaviour?" we came up with the idea that perhaps Willy was responsible for Biffs attitude towards life, work and woman now because the times that he needed his dad the most he was "doing" another woman.
We were then asked "Why is Willy such a nutter?". During the rest of the play willy is torn between two voices -the woman and his sons. the use of mobile concurrency helps us to understand Willys relationship with the woman and it has helped us understand why Biff has such an unstable relationship with his father. Biff feels that Willy has let him down big time by cheating on Linda.

Through the rest of the play it goes back and forth between Willys past(with the woman) and the present(with his sons). During this scene we are made aware that Willy tends to lie a lot, especially to Biff when he turns up at the hotel years ago while Willy was with "the woman". Willy uses lies such as:
  • shes a buyer
  • there knocking on the wrong door
  • there's nobody there
  • i just heard you -i was in the bathroom and the door was shut
  • i think there's a law in massachussets
  • no, thats next door there having a party
  • their painting her room, i let her take a shower here
  • They must have finished painting her room now
  • there's no stockings here

While Willys thinks that he's back in the hotel room with his mistress everyone else in the present is concered about Willy and the noises that are coming from the bathroom. Willy realises he has offically hit rock bottem and there's no way up from where he is now and the only way to help his sons make something of themselves is by him killing himself. Stanley(a waiter) tries to help Willy up, and when Willy hands him money he refuses saying that the boys already paid him but Willy insists that Stanley take the money by saying "I don't need it anymore" this suggests that he doesn't plan on sticking around for too long and he has other plans(to die). Willy asks Stanley where he can buy seeds from because hes always wanted to plant something. Maybe Willy feels as though the plant will be a fresh start for him and perhaps if he puts more love and care into the plant then he wont ruin its life(like he did his sons). Maybe the plant represents a bit of hope that he has left, or his legacy because he doesn't have anything to be remembered by so perhaps the plant will remind people of him.

Willy is obviously angry through-out all the play, his rage is perhaps his own perception of what sucess is and he knows exactly what he wants and if anything changes or its not what he wants he gets angry. For example when Linda brought the wrong cheese he completly over-reacted. Willy finally acknowledges the fact that hes hit rock bottem and feels that he has nothing to live for, and if he kills himself then Biff will recieve £20,000 which will help him start up a new business to actually make something of his life.

Willy then kills himself.

Homework - (due 20th october 2010)

"to what extent are Biff and Happy's lives a product of their father failed ambitions?"


shiva :) xx


  1. Great Blog Shiva :)

    I think that Willy not only killed himself because he'd hit rock bottom, or to get Biff the £20,000 but also to prove to his sons that he was an admired man; which in the end turns out to be false.

    Esmeralda ;)

  2. Personally I don't think that Willy has done anything wrong - he is just like any other parent who wants the best for their child. If anyone is in the wrong I believe it's Happy & Biff. They didn't even attempt to become independent and as successful as Willy would have liked, so in a way Willy was betrayed by his sons. When he became aware of this he realised it was the truth and couldn't accept it & therefore committed suicide, after all Arthur Miller did once say "Betrayal is the only truth that sticks."

    R.I.P Willy

    Good blog Shiva - Was clear and easy to understand, very helpful!

  3. tragic hero. He died for his sons to be successful !

    I pity him for his confusion and his dreamlike state. Though he still had some sanity left in him as he was clever enough to plan his death / departure

  4. Good blog, nice descriptions.

    I believe Willy tried so hard for his children to have the best life possible. It's sad to see him go in such a lonely manner. I also think, that Willy cheated on Linda because she was too much like a mother figure towards him (even though he needed that,) whereas `The Woman" treated him more like the adult, masculine man he wanted to be.

    Chris W

  5. real good blog, has everything we did for those who weren't in the lesson.

    he definitely was a tragic hero though, not one of the old school but easily just as potent; his story is one we can relate with in today's world... I also believe his self sacrifice was very noble, he tries to be a father, protector and provider right up to the end.

    Daniel J. (:

  6. i dont believe he was a tragic hero as willy was not someone of a noble statue. however his story did consist of the other tragi conventions


  7. Leigh - that's just the Aristotelian definition of Tragedy. Look again at Miller's essay from week one.

  8. nice.

    willy affair wasn't good for Biff's confidence, but he still could have made something of his life!


  9. Hey Shiva it's a great has enabled me to understand all the things that I missed in the last lesson!!!

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  11. I feel as if i can relate to Willy`s flaw of not being able to accept things as they are so i think it`s a really good play.

  12. Very good blog shiva

    Willy's attempt to give his son's a better future is tragic but he knows now that biff won't get anywhere without that money so the sacrifice of his life was meaningful.