Summary of Death of a Salesman
The play “Death of a Salesman” opens on a Monday evening at the home of the Loman family in Brooklyn. Earlier in the morning, Willy, the six-year-old salesman, had left the house for a business trip. But after a while, he returned from the trip being tired and confused. Linda (wife of Willy) is surprised to see Willy because he has gone on a business trip for several days. She asks him whether he has faced any accident or not, and Willy assures her nothing has happened. He says he was unable to concentrate on driving.
Linda tries to persuade him and says he should work in New York to avoid long travel. In reply to Linda, he says Howard Wagner (his boss) doesn’t offer him such an opportunity. In contrast to his father, Frank Wagner, Howard is different. Instead, he appoints Willy as a committed team member from a salaried team member.
The present situation is challenging for Willy because he can’t support his family adequately. On the other hand, his two sons Biff and Happy, are complete failures in their jobs. Biff is thirty-four years old, well built, handsome man but not successful in his life. In contrast to Biff, Happy has a steady job in New York. But he is not satisfied with his career. These two brothers make Willy more tense and anxious.
Suddenly, Willy begins to imagine his past and hallucinates. He sees his dead brother Ben is in the room with him. He asks him how he made his fortune? Then Ben describes how he becomes rich and changes his future. He went to Alaska in search of their father, and he entered the jungle of Africa by mistake, where he found diamond mines. During the imagination, Willy also sees his two sons Biff and Happy, are teenagers, and Biff is a sports star in the school. He remembers Biff has stolen a football. On the other hand, Happy boasts of losing weight.
Read more: You Never Can Tell Summary
Willy has a dream that one day Biff will have his own business like Charley, his next-door neighbor. Willy believes that Biff’s business will be bigger than Charley’s for some reason. Further, he thinks Biff is well-liked, but Bernard (son of Charley) is not. That’s why Willy ignores the message when Charley utters, and Biff is failing in math which may interrupt him to be a graduate.
Willy also remembers that young Linda enters the room, and the boys leave. He boasts of his business trip and earnings, but Linda shows the exact commission. Willy becomes frustrated, and Linda consoles him. Meanwhile, Willy sees the woman (with whom he has an affair) who laughs at him. Willy and the woman flirt with each other. After a while, the woman disappears and thanks Willy for giving the stockings. In the kitchen room, Willy sees Linda mending his socks. He scolds her for this activity and says she should not do such things. Later, Bernard comes to play cards. Linda Tells Willy that Biff should return the football he stole. She also argues Biff’s attitude is too rough towards the neighboring girls. In the meantime, Willy glimpses the laughter of the woman who goes off at Biff and Bernard.
Willy returns from the hallucination and tells Happy why didn’t he go to Alaska with his brother Ben who eventually found diamond mines in Africa and changed his fortune. After a while, Charley enters and plays cards with Willy. Charley offers a job to him. Willy becomes angry and thinks it’s insulted for him and refuses it. Willy again hallucinates and sees Ben enters the room. He talks to Charley as if he is Ben. Charley becomes confused and leaves. Linda enters while Willy starts talking to Ben and introduces her to him. Ben reveals his journey and talks about his father. As Ben leaves, Charley and Bernard inform Willy that Biff and happy steal lumber. Willy is still talking to Ben, although he leaves the place.
The play returns to the present situation. Linda enters. Biff and Happy talk about their father’s condition with Linda. Linda shouts to Biff as he wrongly judges his father. She tells her sons that Willy has attempted to commit suicide. Happy becomes angry and blames Biff for his failure to the business. Willy overhears their arguments and convinces them to start a sporting goods business. Willy talks about Bill Oliver (Biff’s old employer) while Biff says he will go to Oliver to discuss the business.
The next day Willy is enjoying his breakfast with Linda. Linda tells Willy that Biff is very hopeful for the business. To hear it from his wife, Willy becomes so impressed and promises her he will talk to Howard Wagner for a new job in New York. At the office of Howard, Willy attempts to ask for a job, but Howard is busy playing with a wire recorder. After a while, Howard refuses his demand and says there is no single post available for him. He also rebukes him and says he is not suitable for any job in his office. Willy is fired to hear it from Howard.
Willy recollects his old memories and enters the imaginary world once again. He sees Ben offers him a job in Alaska. The young Linda comes and reminds him that they shouldn’t go there as far as Biff is concerned. Willy praises Biff because he is well-liked. Ben leaves, Bernard enters and waits for Biff’s big football game. Charley arrives and teases Willy about the game.
Willy returns from his imaginary world. He arrives in Charley’s office. Bernard and Willy try to point out the reasons behind the failure of Biff. In this discussion, Bernard raises some issues behind Biff’s lack of success in his life. Willy becomes jealous and frustrated to see the achievement of Bernard. Charley enters and tells Willy that Benard will rush the supreme court to deal with a case. He offers a job to Willy, but he refuses once again.
At Frank’s restaurant, Willy will meet with his two sons. Happy flirts with a girl (prostitute) named Miss Forsythe. He continuously flirts with the girl, whereas Biff waits for Bill Oliver (his former boss) for six hours. Biff becomes frustrated to see that Mr. Oliver doesn’t recognize him. He flashbacks his old memories with Oliver and remember he was not a salesman of him and instead, he was a shipping clerk. Later on, Willy arrives at the restaurant while Biff makes a plan to convince his father? But Willy glimpses the actual situation and is fired. After a while, Willy again hallucinates. He remembers Bernard rushes to inform Linda that Biff has been failed in math, which interrupted him to be a graduate.
Willy imagines he is staying in the Boston hotel room with the woman he has an affair with. He remembers young Biff entering the hotel room to tell Willy that he failed in math. Biff requests his father to talk with Mr. Birnbaum to do something for him. In the meantime, Biff hears the voice of the woman hiding in the bathroom. Willy tries to convince him that he doesn’t have any relationship with the woman. But Biff refuses to believe him, instead of addressing him as a ‘phony little fake.’
Willy hallucinates he is still in the restaurant where he sees Stanley; the waiter appears again. He asks the waiter where he can find a seed store for planting. He returns to the home and starts gardening even at night. Happy and Biff appear in the house with flowers. Linda scolds the boys and shouts to see them with flowers. Sunny tries to calm her while Biff goes in search of Willy.
Ben appears to see Willy plants a garden. Willy tells Ben that he decides to commit suicide so that his family will get twenty-thousand dollars from the insurance policy. Ben rebukes him for such a cowardly decision. Willy warns Biff that he will no longer tolerate his failure. Both of them confront each other, and Willy has fired once again. Biff starts weeping, saying his father should give up his dream, which touched Willy. Everyone is preparing for sleep except Willy. Ben reappears and reminds Willy about the insurance money. Willy rushes from the house and commits suicide.
Willy’s funeral procedure is happening while very few people attend the funeral. Linda laments none of Willy’s business friends follows in the mourning. Biff mourns and utters that his father had a bad dream. He offers his brother to leave the city. But Happy says they should stay in New York to prove that his father’s struggle will not go in vain. All of them leave except Linda, who starts crying near the grave and asks for forgiveness from Willy.
Azizul Hakim is the founder & CEO of englishfinders.com. He is a passionate writer, English instructor, and content creator. He has completed his graduation and post-graduation in English language and literature.