Death of a Salesman Act 2

Willy commits suicide in the last scene of Act 2, the audience are left to let there minds finish the play as ‘the car speeds off’ and the next thing the audience see is the Family at the funeral. The scene leading up to the suicide is a confrontation between Biff and Willy, this confrontation exposes the essential gridlock of their relationship arguable caused by Willy’s affair.

Willy desperately wants Biff to think of him as successful like his Uncle Ben rather than a ‘useless bum. Biff wants to leave and for Willy to forget about him so he can continue his life without the ongoing pressures from his father and live his life how he wants to instead of the carrying the weight of his fathers dreams. When Biff and Happy return to the house with a bunch of roses for Linda but she throws the flowers to the floor, and tells them to leave and accuses them of leaving there self destructing father in the restaurant bathroom.

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Happy denies all the accusations but Biff admits his mother’s judgements and degrades his own status by calling himself the ‘scum of the earth. Biff wants to see his father and ‘erupt a conversation’ before he leaves but Linda tries desperately to prevent a confrontation which I feel she does as she knows deep down how close he is to death and this would kill him. Biff hears Willy outside, he is frantically planting seeds. When the audience see him outside he is talking to Ben, we can see from the outset this is a flashback and shows his deterioration in to madness. Willy talks to Ben about his $20,000 life insurance proposition which his family will get if he dies.

Ben warns this is the ‘cowardly way out’ and the policy may not be honoured. He compares the proposition to a diamond that is ‘shining in the dark, hard and rough’ that is reachable by Willy. Willy is adamant that this money will prove to Biff he is important and this will be enforced when he sees the amount of people who liked Willy at his funeral. This conversation allows Willy to contemplate suicide but he does not realise that the last thing he wishes to succeed at will fail as you don’t get the life insurance money if it is suicide.

At this point of the play the audience are aware of Willy’s future intentions but his family are not so when Biff confronts Willy about the rubber hose and makes Willy face the truth that Biff is not succeeding in what Willy wants to be successful in reaching the American dream he longs for. This in itself could push Willy over the edge without Biff going on to blame the reason he is filled with ‘hot air’ and is not succeeding in life. By the end of Willy and Biff’s confrontation, Willy realises he is left alone and the audience hear a car driving away, the result is inevitable.

Willy’s death is caused by him not being able to let go of Biff as this would remove the myth he has built his whole life around. He has admitted to having no hope of himself reaching the American dream so wishes for Biff to reach the American dream for him but letting go of Biff these dreams are demolished. The confrontation represents how they Biff and Willy are desperately fighting for their own identity. Biff does not blame the affair for the course his life has taken but on the fact that his father would not let him enter the business world from the bottom but form where Willy left off.

Willy’s deterioration to suicide is made clear by Willy’s happy and Biff’s tearful reaction it also demonstrates him missing another opportunity to take refuge in the love for his family that could of saved him and confuses Biff’s reaction for one Biff showing how much he likes his father. This confusion to recognise emotions and signals from his family marks a climax in his self tortured day. This confusion of Biff’s emotion although is wrong persuades Willy he is well liked and enables him to make his final sale in life i. e. his life.

Willy’s view of his suicide is a way of validating and proving himself at being a salesman and also a successful martyr as he is passing on his American dream and ambition to Biff. Ben’s last reference ‘the jungle is dark, but full of diamonds’ changes Willy’s death to symbolise a metamorphical moral struggle. In conclusion Willy’s obsession with the American dream to become successful creates the death of him. His death becomes a religious crusade and therefore Willy becomes a Christ like figure and dies to relieve the sins of his sons who have failed in reaching his aims for them.