Summary of Death of a Salesman
The play “Death of a Salesman” opens on a Monday evening at the home of Loman family in Brooklyn. Earlier in the morning Willy the six years old salesman had left from the home 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 for several days on a business trip. She asks him whether he has faced any accident or not. Willy assures her nothing has happened. He says he was unable to concentrate on driving.
Linda tries to persuade him and tells that he should work in New York so that he can avoid longer 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 totally different. Rather, he appoints Willy as a commission employee from a salaried employee.
The present situation is very difficult for Willy because he can’t support his family in proper ways. On the other hand, his two sons Biff and Happy are completely failure 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 job. These two brothers make Willy more tensed 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 fortune. He went to Alaska in search of their father. He entered in 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 his weight.
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Willy has a dream that one day Biff will have his own business like Charley his next-door neighbour. Willy believes that Biff’s business will be bigger than Charley for some reasons. Further, he thinks Biff is well-liked but Bernard (son of Charley) is not. That’s why Willy ignores the message when Charley utters, Biff is failing in math which may interrupt him to be a graduate.
Willy also remembers that young Linda enters into the room and the boys leave. He boasts of his business trip and earning but Linda shows the exact commission he earned. Willy becomes frustrated and Linda consoles him. Meanwhile, Willy sees the woman (whom he has an affair) who laughs at him. Willy and the woman flirt each other. After a while, the woman disappears and thanks to Willy for giving the stockings. In the kitchen room, Willy sees Linda mending his stockings. He scolds her for this activity and says she should not do such things. Later, Bernard comes for playing cards. Linda Tells Willy that Biff should return the football he stolen. She also argues Biff’s attitude is too rough towards the neighbouring 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 playing card 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 into 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 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 judged 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 business of sporting goods. Willy is talking about Bill Oliver (Biff’s old employer) while Biff says he will go to Oliver in order 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 impressive 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 not a 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 as because he is well-liked. Ben leaves, Bernard enters and waiting 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 have to rush the supreme court in order 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 is waiting 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. Rather he was a shipping clerk. Later on, Willy arrives at the restaurant while Biff makes a plan how can he convince his father? But Willy glimpses the real situation and being 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. He remembers young Biff enters the hotel room to tell Willy that he failed in math. Biff requests his father to talk with Mr. Birnbaum so that he can 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, rather addresses him a ‘phony little fake’.
Willy hallucinates he is still in the restaurant where he sees Stanley the waiter appears once again. He asks the waiter where he can find a seed store for planting. He returns in the home and starts gardening even at night. Happy and Biff appear in the home with flowers. Linda scolds the boys and shouts to see them with flowers. Happy tries to calm her while Biff goes in search of Willy.
Ben appears seeing 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 cowardice decision. Willy warns Biff that he will no longer tolerate his failure. Both of them confront each other and Willy being fired once again. Biff starts weeping saying his father that he 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 going on while very few people attend the funeral. Linda laments none of Willy’s business friends attends in the mourning. Biff mourns and utters that his father had a wrong dream. He offers his brother to leave the city. But Happy says that 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 to Willy.