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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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How was Willy's relationship both past and present with his boss Howard Wagner? How does his treatment of Willy affect the rest of the play?

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Willy tries to give good advice to Biff when he goes to ask for money from Bill Oliver, he tells him not to be timid, not to do demeaning things. When Will is in Howard's presence, however, Willy does all of the things he counseled Biff not to do. Howard is demeaning towards Willy, calling him kid, talking to him about products he knows he can't afford, and finally not giving him the job he wants and ultimatly firing him. Howard reminds Willy of all of his failures, not only as an employee, but as a human as well. It could be said that Howard's treatment of Willy was a big factor in his suicide. Willy realizes that without a job he can't support his family, and his family will have no resepct for him. It is then that he plans his suicide, and hopes that the money from his life insurance will provide for his family in ways that he never could.

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