How does Miller use the opening stages in Death of a Salesman to prepare the spectators for the play's tragic ending?  

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Willy comes back home unexpected since he had just set off a few hours earlier on a business trip. He doesn't want to tell his wife Linda that he has wrecked the car (again!), but he finally explains that he can't keep his concentration when behind the wheel and just steers off the road.  He mumbles something too about having "terrible thoughts" and speaks of being "tired to death."  These incidents and comments are a foreshadowing of Willy's "accident," as the spectators already see that Willy feels tired, old, and overcome by a situation (as the car) gone "out of control."  Willy's suicide is ironically the only way he can assume his role as a responsible husband, father and breadwinner, since his death (by the insurance money it will bring in) will assure that his family is at last provided for.

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Death of a Salesman

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