Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act)
WILLY: I got an awful scare. Nearly hit a kid in Yonkers. God! Why didn’t I go to Alaska with my brother Ben that time! Ben! That man was a genius, that man was success incarnate! What a mistake! He begged me to go. (Act 1)
Willy feels trapped in his life of financial struggle in New York and longs for escape. He assumes that escape from the city will also mean escape from his current failures at work.
BEN: At that age I had a very faulty view of geography, William. I discovered after a few days that I was heading due south, so instead of Alaska I ended up in Africa.
WILLY: The Gold Coast!
BEN: Principally diamond mines.
LINDA: Diamond mines!
BEN: Yes, my dear. But I’ve only a few minutes—
WILLY: No! Boys! Boys! [Young Biff and Happy appear] Listen to this. This is your Uncle Ben, a great man! Tell my boys, Ben! (Act 1)
Willy's and Linda's fascination with far-off lands is closely linked with their desire for escape and financial security. To Willy especially, Ben's exploits represent a lifestyle that is totally free, yet totally successful.
LINDA [laughing]: That’d be wonderful. But not enough sun gets back there. Nothing’ll grow anymore.
WILLY: You wait, kid, before its all over we’re gonna get a little place out in the country, and I’ll raise some vegetables, a couple of chickens.
LINDA: You’ll do it yet, dear.
[Willy walks out of his jacket. Linda follows him.]
WILLY: And they’ll get married, and come for a weekend. I’d build a little guest house. 'Cause I got so many fine tools, all I’d need would be a little lumber and some peace of mind. (Act 2)
Willy and Linda perceive escape from their urban neighborhood as freedom. The entire play seems to be infused with a longing for a simpler lifestyle. What do you think: is the life of a farmer in the country more free than the life of a salesman in the city?