1 Answer | Add Yours
[eNotes editors are only permitted to answer one question per posting. If you have additional questions, please post them separately.]
Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, is the story of Willy Lohman who, for over thirty-five years, has been working in sales for the same company. Well into his sixties, the job is extremely wearing and he struggles with what could have been, what he wants for his sons, his perceptions (which are not always grounded in reality), and his own missed opportunities.
Willy often has "internal monologues" where he imagines he is talking, most often, with his brother Ben. Seen by Willie to as a highly successful man, mining diamonds in Africa and buying large tracts of open land, Willy carries on his conversations, or monologues, with his brother, who is now deceased.
A monologue...is when the character may be speaking his or her thoughts aloud, directly addressing another character...It is distinct from a soliloquy, which is where a character relates his or her thoughts and feelings to him/herself and to the audience without addressing any of the other characters.
Willy's discussions are not truly directed to himself or the audience, but to another character, even if imaginary; he carries on entire conversations, providing both sides of the discussion. So these are not soliloquies.
An example of a monologue in the play is found at the end of Act Two. At the end of the play, Willy is planting his garden. He is concerned for his wife, saying she has suffered. He is speaking to Ben, asking him to go over his plan to provide his wife with $20,000. As he and the "imaginary" Ben talk, we realize that Willy is trying to work out the details of committing suicide so that Linda will receive his life insurance. And one of his monologues describes his funeral:
Oh, Ben that's the whole beauty of it! I see it like a diamond, shining in the dark, hard and rough, that I can pick up and touch in my hand. Not like—like an appointment! This would not be another damned-fool appointment, Ben, and it changes all the aspects. Because he thinks I'm nothing, see, and so he spites me. But the funeral—Ben, that funeral will be massive! They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old timers with the strange license plates—that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized—I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey—I am known, Ben, and he'll see it with his eyes once and for all. He'll see what I am, Ben! He's in for a shock, that boy!
In this monologue, the audience realizes what Willy's boss Howard has realized: that Willy is out of touch with reality. Willy lives in the past. When asking Howard for a raise or a desk job in the office, Willy continually refers to his relationship with Howard's father, when he ran the business. Howard, however, has no desire to listen to the old stories. He is doing fine, but cannot give anything to Willy. Ultimately, he fires Willy. Willy never sees it coming. He is so caught up in what he believes to have been, or what existed many years before, that he cannot see the truth of his situation in the present.
Willy speaks of all those who will come to his funeral, but times have changed. Would these people even have come fifteen years before? Sadly, Willy goes through this dialogue with Ben because he has no one else to talk to. And we are dismayed, as an audience, to witness Willy's mental deterioration.
We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question