Death of a Salesman Quotes - Arthur Miller

All quotes come from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. He is the original author of all the quotes cited in this resource. The comments provided are my own. 

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Willy Loman Pg 23

"He's liked, but he's not well liked." - Willy Loman, pg 23

He is obsessed with being well-liked - his hamartia. He thinks that is the most important thing and that it will get him through life. This line is also repeated throughout the play. 

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Happy Pg 82

"Because you're not showing the old confidence, Biff." - Happy Loman, pg 82

Stuck in the past; the image of his father. 

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Willy Loman Pg 64

"You can't eat an orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit!" - Willy Loman, pg 64

He attempts a metaphor but it doesn't make sense - emphasises Willy's confusion and lack of awareness. He is always one step behind. 

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Willy Loman Pg 64

"I averaged a hundred and seventy four dollars a week in the year of 1928!" - Willy Loman, pg 64 

He is stuck in the past, like a typical tragic hero. Desperately trying to keep himself going by thinking of his past achievements. The specificity of the figures furthers this - he is obsessed. 

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Willy and Howard Pg 65

Willy: "They're working on a very big deal."
Howard: "This is no time for false pride, Willy." 

Willy's hamartia returning. He convinces himself that everything will be ok if he is "well-liked", but this only further reveals his delusion. 

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Linda Pg 44

"I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he is a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person." - Linda, pg 44

This shows the extent to which Linda will defend Willy, despite his flaws, delusions, etc. It also reveals that she knows what is happening to him and understands to a relatively full extent the problems which he faces - "a terrible thing is happening to him". "Attention must be paid" is impersonal - Linda almost never talks about herself in the play. Shows the extent to which she gives herself to him and dedicates herself to him. 

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Linda Requiem

"We're free and clear. [Sobbing more fully, released] We're free. [BIFF comes slowly toward her.] We're free...we're free..." - Linda, pg 112 (Requiem)

Despite her grieving, Willy's death still FREES Linda. She no longer feels tied to her home or her love. She uses the pronoun we despite rarely using personal pronouns throughout the play, demonstrating that she is alone and she can do things now for herself. She understands Willy's tragedy. 

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Charley Pg 77

"Willy, nobody's worth nothin' dead. [After a slight pause.] Did you hear what I said?" - Charley, Pg 77 

This foreshadows Willy's death at the end of the play, and also depicts what may happen afterwards. Willy is deluded and thinks that the money for the insurance will help out the family but really they are stuck in the perpetual cycle of the American consumerist society so it is unlikely that anything will change. His death will be worth nothing

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Ben Pg 37

"When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. [he laughs.] And by G-d I was rich." - Ben, pg 37 

Ben is the representation of the conventional American Dream, and cruelly tries to tempt Willy despite the fact it is obviously out of Willy's reach because of his delusional state. He makes it sound easy to achieve everything you want. Through this comment, he also epitomises the increasing consumer culture in America at the time this play is set. 

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Willy and Linda Pg 30-31

LINDA ... is now mending a pair of her silk stockings. 

Willy: "I won't have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out!" - Willy and Linda, pg 30-31 

Stockings are a representation of Willy's past infedility and the discomfort he feels with himself. He appears to be tormented by delusions, especially with The Woman's laugh. Did he have an affair to satisfy his need for validation? He doesn't seem to be lustful; he is insecure to such an extent. 

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Biff and Happy Pg 17

Biff: "Sure, maybe we could buy a ranch. Raise cattle, use our muscles. Men built like we are should be working out in the open." 
Happy: [avidly]: "The Loman brothers, heh?"
Biff: [with vast affection]: "Sure, we'd be known all over the counties!" 
- Biff and Happy, pg 17 

Like their father, they seem to have a false representation of the American Dream. Miller is critical of the values that America seemed to instil in its citizens at this time; took advantage of characters like Biff who don't know what they are doing. Willy has a strong definition of "success" and that is to be "well-liked" and have a good secure job, which is why he is ashamed of Biff. However, he buys into this false idea of the American Dream as much as his sons. Linda seems to be the only one in the family who is immune. 

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Willy Loman Pg 96

"Nothing's planted. I don't have a thing in the ground." - Willy Loman, pg 96 

By the end of the play, Willy is realising once again his lack of stability. He has a desperation to make something of himself but doesn't have the mental capacity to do it. He feels hysterical at this point. 

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Willy Loman Pg 99

"Ben, a man has got to add up to something." - Willy Loman Pg 99 

Here, Willy is referencing his insurance money he would get if he killed himself. He considers adding up to something to be money - representing the consumerist society. Lost interest in values of personality, appears to only see the value of money as to what a man is and how successful he is. 

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Willy Loman Pg 85

"You know why he remembered you, don't you? Because you impressed him in those days." - Willy Loman, pg 85

Deluded. He is so desperate to believe that his son is making something of himself. He doesn't understand Biff's habit of stealing. This habit also goes to represent the consumerist society and the importance of goods - he is remembered for the goods he takes but Willy is desperate to believe that it is the worth of his personality for which he is recognised. Differing views between Willy and society - again shows he is behind the times (sadly!). 

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