Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act)
WILLY: Gee whiz! That’s really somethin’. I’m gonna knock Howard for a loop, kid. I’ll get an advance and I’ll come home with a New York job. Goddammit, now I’m gonna do it!
LINDA: Oh, that’s the spirit Willy! (Act 2)
Willy experiences occasional moments of extreme optimism that contrast with similarly extreme moments of depression. The back and forth between these highs and lows is what eventually tears him apart.
LINDA: You’re doing well enough, Willy!
BEN [to Linda]: Enough for what, my dear?
LINDA [frightened of Ben and angry at him]: Don’t say those things to him! Enough to be happy right here, right now. [To Willy, while Ben laughs] Why must everybody conquer the world? You’re well liked and the boys love you and someday—[to Ben]—why, old man Wagner told him just the other day that if he keeps it up he’ll be a member of the firm, didn’t he, Willy? (Act 2)
Linda expresses concern that Willy's massive aspirations are getting the better of him. She seems afraid that if Willy latches on to his brother's big dreams of success, then she may never see her husband again.
WILLY: [the last to leave, turning to Charley]: I don’t think that was funny, Charley. This is the greatest day of his life.
CHARLEY: Willy, when are you going to grow up?
WILLY: Yeah, heh? When this game is over, you’ll be laughing out of the other side of your face. They’ll be calling him another Red Grange. Twenty-five thousand a year. (Act 2)
Willy's hopefulness that the game will turn out well for Biff is based on the belief that Biff has already won the game, performed flawlessly, and is headed for a professional football career. This kind of baseless optimism eventually destroys Willy and seems to seriously damage his sons.