Why does the playwright leave these uncertainties for us? It is concerned with the episode when Willy is abandoned by his two sons in th restarant. He bought some seeds and planted in the garden,...

Why does the playwright leave these uncertainties for us?

It is concerned with the episode when Willy is abandoned by his two sons in th restarant. He bought some seeds and planted in the garden, when he visioned Ben, his past brother. Willy talked about his planning of suicide and getting the insurance money for Linda and Biff.sbut we don't know if the insurance willl be paid to his family after his suicide. Besides we don't even know what Willy sells in the play.

 

Asked on by slowwalker

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

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I think that this type of question goes to the heart of what Miller believes about the modern predicament.  Consider Miller's description of how he sees Willy:

[The audience members] were weeping because the central matrix of this play is ... what most people are up against in their lives.... they were seeing themselves, not because Willy is a salesman, but the situation in which he stood and to which he was reacting, and which was reacting against him, was probably the central situation of contemporary civilization. It is that we are struggling with forces that are far greater than we can handle, with no equipment to make anything mean anything.

It is the last sentence that might help answer the question.  Willy is set against forces that are larger than he is and determine so much of his life.  The ultimate uncertainty in the play is how can we "handle" what is impossible to handle?  There is a great deal of ambiguity present in the play in terms of who Willy is and the exact circumstances surrounding him because these are the exact forces are difficult to grasp.  If Miller wrote a play where everything is answered, where there are no ambiguities, and where doubt is replaced by totalizing clarity, it takes away from why Willy is the way he is and why his life is how it is.  The style in which the play unfolds is one where individuals attempt to make sense of their existence, and in the process, ambiguity and doubt result.  There has to be a level of uncertainty when we learn about characters from their own words and without a third person omniscient narrator.  This is logical because individual bias takes over.  Look at Willy for evidence of this.  We can find examples where he is blusterous in one scene, and then in the very next one, he is a shell of a man.  At one point, we see him striving for the stars, and a moment later, he resembles someone who has grabbed nothing but the sands of the desert.  This change denies a sense of totality and this makes his character more believable.  If the play lacked uncertainty, then there would be no questions.  Consider that if all questions were answered, then Willy would be in no pain because his dreams would have been accomplished, his kids would have loved him unconditionally, and he would have been an unquestioned success.  In short, he would have been a success.  The fact that he is not a success is where these questions arise, and proves Miller's basic idea of why the audience weeps when they watch this play.  We are not watching Willy as much as we are seeing our own shortcomings and failures.  We have no clear answers for this, either.

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