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In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is entraped by his obsession in...

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winter567 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:05 AM via web

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In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is entraped by his obsession in using words. Discuss the significance of his spoken words in the play.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Willy uses language as an extension of the matrix that ensnares him.  Willy's language is an appropriation of the social and economic system in which individual success is defined by the perception of others.  It is defined in terms of economic wealth, social acceptance, and being able to be appreciated by others.  Willy's language is a reflection of this condition.  Willy's spoken language is a reflection of this contradictory state of being, where independence and success is spoken about, but exists in the gaze of another and external element.  Willy becomes trapped by language because the spoken language he uses is a reflection of this condition of being where there is asserted freedom, but actual enslavement.  For Willy, his language entraps him because it is a reaffirmation of the matrix that binds him.  His language does not seek to be free of this condition.  Rather, it reaffirms his bondage within it.  Miller seems to be suggesting that language is a web that binds.  When we fail to examine our own construction of language, we appropriate it to an extent where little liberation is possible.  Willy certainly represents this in how he uses language to affirm the condition of being around him as opposed to seeking to transcend it.

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