Comparing Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller And Fences By August Wilson

1305 words - 6 pages

Comparing Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson have similar themes of conflicts between fathers and sons, conflicts between husbands and wives, and the need to focus on a small unit of space in order to achieve success. In the process of developing these themes throughout the two plays, three similar symbolic elements are used including the insecure father figure, the "other woman," and the garden.

The fathers in the two plays are comparable because they both have conflicts with their sons as a result of living in the past, and they die in the end. Willy, in Death of a Salesman, is ...view middle of the document...

All you ever did was try and make me scared of you" (1913). Although Cory is a skilled baseball player, Troy always discourages him from playing professionally. Troy is never given the chance to play because he is black, but athletics is a field that is fully open to blacks later, when Cory is ready to play. His father is unable to recognize this fact because he always lives in the memory of past events; he pressures Cory to be much better than all the white baseball players. This conflict is never really resolved because even at his father's funeral, Cory feels much resentment towards his father and almost does not attend the funeral. He has not yet separated himself from his father's dominance and is just beginning to "find a way to get rid of that shadow" (1918). Therefore, both of the insecure father figures make unrealistic demands on their sons until their sons are forced to separate themselves completely from their fathers' influence. While the role of the insecure father figure is to generate conflicts between fathers and sons, the role of the "other woman" is to spark another kind of conflict between husbands and wives.

In Death of a Salesman, although Linda never finds out about the Woman, her relationship with Willy is still affected by the Woman. For example, Willy says, "Will you stop mending stockings? At least while I'm in the house. It gets me nervous. I can't tell you" (1745). The reason that it makes him nervous is that he gives the Woman some of Linda's stockings, and he feels guilty. The Woman serves as a foil for Linda because the Woman is demanding and materialistic; this contrasts with Linda's submissiveness and thriftiness. The Woman is only concerned with the material things that Willy can give her; she demands "Where's my stockings? You promised me stockings, Willy!" (1768). In contrast, Linda is conscious of the value of money; she takes the responsibility for making payments on the refrigerator and the car. Even in the end, she is sorrowful because she makes the final payment on the house and has no one to share it with. Therefore, the Woman's personality helps to highlight Linda's virtues, and Willy's guilt for cheating on her poisons their relationship; he is always venting his anger out on her.

In Fences, Troy fathers a child with his mistress, Alberta, and he confronts Rose with the news, adding the fact that Alberta is dead. Rose is very hurt that after eighteen years of being faithful to him, Troy is unfaithful and does not even feel any guilt. Although she is usually forgiving of him, after this...

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