The scene featuring Willy, Charley and Willy's fictional vision of his brother Ben. This scene provides and excellent insight into the main body of the plays ideas and provides a debatable level of dramatic effectiveness which I intend to examine. It particularly provides an insight into the ideas of the romanticised, American, capitalist society within the play, Willies belief in 'being liked' and his need to take self-esteem from others being the key part of his value system and his self-denial, pride and lying.
I feel the scene conveys Willies self-denial and his fatally woven web of lies well as it highlights how this contributed to his insanity. His pride keeps him from accepting help from Charley when he even confesses 'I got nothin' to give him, Charley, I'm clean. ' This is after Charley offers him a job and Willie tells him 'I got a good job. ' He denies help for his family who he clearly loves so much because of his pride. He later contradicts himself when talking to his projection of Ben, his brother.
As his brother is portrayed in Willies imagination as somebody of great similarity but also success, varying from Willie. Willie tells him a different story, desperately seeking self-esteem from Ben's approval. This self-denial has left Willie confused as a person and lead to his insanity. He tells Ben 'business is bad. It's murderous, but not for me. ' He lies; telling Ben this as he feels it will make him believe it if Ben, a man very much the archetype Willie always dreamed of aspiring to, does too.
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This is very dramatically effective to both an audience and a reader as it shows Willies fallibilities in close up over a short space of time and almost amplifies to them to the extent where they are un-avoidable. The character of Ben, however may not be quite as effective when reading the play as Miller does not quite make it clear that Ben is actually a dream created by Willie immediately like the other younger characters, leading to confusion initially when Charley does understand who Willie is talking to.
This may have been done on purpose to give the reader a feeling of confusion that mirrors that of Willies, causing them to be more immersed in the play. On stage the characters would be much more easily distinguished by use of lighting, positioning and costume in order to determine their origins. Another incidence where Willies self-denial rotting the core of this dysfunctional family is were his flashback is extended to include young Biff and Happy and younger Linda. Young Bernard rushes in to interrupt Willies love-in with Ben and Linda to tell him 'The watchman's chasing Biff' and he has been stealing again.
Willies initial anger and self-denial of 'Shut up! He's not stealing anything! ' Willy denies to himself the fact that Biff has been stealing, as he loves Biff too much. He gets over this after convincing himself it's Biff being done wrong and tells Ben he has 'nerves of iron. ' This shows how, instead of punishing Biff he has dodged it and consequently done what he sought to avoid by putting aside these events; failing as a father, something against what he values. This would be very dramatically effective as it gives a moment of tension and the pace would be fast.
This would be a climax to an 'episode' of the play as it is episodic. It also illustrates Ben's fallibility as well as Willies as they both agree on this as the right course of action whereas Charlie illustrates a more down-to-earth view. This scene also displays Willies faith in the ideas of the romanticised, American, capitalist society and how they are conveyed in the scene as a whole. Ben is the man of the American dream in many ways, he is a man who is a self-made success and represents the prosperous capitalist.
Miller describes him as 'utterly certain of his destiny' and he has 'an aura of far places about him. ' Making him seem superior to the other characters, clearly confused and uncertain, particularly Biff and Happy. The idea that Ben was a 'young man with a faulty view of geography' who went and came back rich goes very much along the lines of the idea that anybody can make their fortune in American society. Ben arrogantly preaches this capitalist idea towards his exit where he tells Willy 'When I walked into the jungle I was seventeen.
When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God I was rich! ' This shows the audience and the reader the potential success of capitalism but will install doubts in not only Ben but also the idea itself. Firstly, Willies dishonesty will lead you to believe his projection of Ben and his success is greatly exaggerated as he makes him so much like himself. The audience and reader will have also seen Willy, who provides a stark comparison of somebody following the same dream but ending up failing.
This section also shows how Willies main principles are those in 'being liked' and his need to take self-esteem from others being the key part of his value system. Ben is largely the character Willy is trying to impress throughout the scene. As I have mentioned previously, Willy and Ben bare many resemblances as they have similar value systems. For example, 'being liked' is clearly one of them. Also both seem to share a keen belief in perspiration over inspiration. If a man works hard then he can do no more. Willy tries to impress Ben with his son's physical attributes, mainly Biff.
Who he dubs a 'Great athlete. ' He compares them to Bernard and Charley and reveals his opinions on perspiration when he talks about them inferiorly as 'they can't hammer a nail! ' This shows the audience about Willy's beliefs and again exposes his failure to raise Biff and Happy on his ideas because of his denial and lies. This also shows Willies old-fashioned ways and opinions and how he is set in his ways. This entire scene is used predominantly as a chance to examine Willy and his ideas and principles in detail.
Charley and Ben are used as examples of what Willy admires and aspires to and want to avoid and deter from. Ben in many ways represents the man Willy wanted to be, the successful citizen of a capitalist society, achieved through good honest hard work and belief in the American dream. Charley represents the alternatives to this, which Willy has strived to avoid being and has done, at a cost. He is now stuck living a false life where even he has forgotten what is real and true, leading to his insanity. This scene is very dramtically effective in displaying that and how it has effected the family as a whole.
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Look at the section from Charley’s entrance to exit. (2017, Dec 23). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/look-section-charleys-entrance-exit/
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