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into madness from the consequences of dividing his kingdom between his daughters based on flattery. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is about Willy Loman a senile salesman who all his life dreamed of achieving success and wanted to be “well liked”. Willy is presented as a failure who never realized he had all the “wrong dreams”. During the play, as Willy’s mental state deteriorates, the boundaries between past and present are destroyed, and the two start to exist in parallel. Both protagonists Lear and Willy are tragic heroes; however King Lear is a typical tragic hero whereas Willy is a modern day tragic hero because he made an error in judgement and suffered a tragic downfall but did not have the self realization like Lear did. Both were however set in male dominated societies even though they were written in different times. Willy and Lear have many similarities as both protagonists have problems within family life. Lear and his daughters have a troubled relationship due to him dividing his kingdom. On the other hand Willy and Biff have issues too since Willy’s affair was exposed. Both go through a phase of madness in their lives due to the mistakes made in their lives. Another aspect that is comparable is the diminishing power in Lear and Willy’s lives. The one main difference is Lear achieved power but due to his foolishness and mistakes he let that power slip from his hands. In Act 1, scene 1 in lines 37-40 Lear announces that he intends to hand over his kingdom to his daughters so he has can rest. “tis our fast intent to shake all cares and business from our age, conferring them on younger strengths, while we unberthened crawl towards death”. This shows his foolishness as he is giving all his power away. Willy however always just dreamed of being successful and never achieved any power or success in his lifetime and not in death as no one came to his funeral. The decline in power, authority and status is a linking factor in both texts. Lear was born into power and has had authority all his life. After god Lear was thought to have the most power through the analogical world view. In Act 1, scene 1 line 78-79 Lear gives away his kingdom. “to thee and thine, hereditary ever, remain this ample third of our fair kingdom”. By giving away the kingdom he is giving the very power that he is accustomed to away to his daughters. In doing this he did not realise he was giving up his power, authority and status. His foolishness was that he was not willing to give up his rights and privileges that were attached to being a king. By giving away his kingdom he did not make a wise decision as he did not think his actions through. He was born into power and is not something he can easily let go of as he is used to issuing commands and having them obeyed. In Act 1, scene 4 73-74 Lear orders Oswald to tell Goneril he will speak with her. “Go you and tell my daughter I would speak with her”. He is still issuing commands as he is the king. Shakespeare shows Lear being confused in act 1, scene 4 not fully understanding what he has given up and how he now has no rights. Lear’s decline in power and status is shown in Act 1, scene 4.Lear is aware of the changes in Goneril’s behaviour and the way he is being treated. He first realizes his decline in power in Act 1, scene 4 in lines 52-53 Oswald Goneril’s steward refuses to see Lear. “he answered me in the roundest manner, he would not”. This is showing the start of Lear’s downfall as a servant is refusing to see the “mighty” Lear. Goneril’s firm talk with Lear shows the hierarchy changing exchanging Goneril with Lear. In Act 1 scene 4 lines 247- 249 Goneril tells Lear to reduce the number of his followers. “disquantity your train; and the remainders, that shall still depend, to be such men as may besort your age”. Lear’s helplessness is shown as it is great disrespect that his own daughter is telling him to reduce the number of his followers. This is the start of Lear’s authority crumbling. 1
In Act 2. scene 4 lines 170-172. Regan tells Lear that he is old and should allow himself to be ruled by those who know what is good for him. In Act 2. He chased after the “wrong dream” all his life dedicating his whole life to being a salesman but not coming any closer to achieving success or power. He has dedicated his life to being a salesman and has now gone to Howard to ask for a job closer to home as he cannot travel nomore but is let down by Howards response to him. He is 2 . the sequence in Howard’s office shows Willy’s failure in life and shows the delusions he has about himself.148. “No Regan. This shows the daughters intense hatred towards Lear. Problems within family life is a theme in both plays. In Act 3.” page 17 shows their closeness as Biff tells Willy “missed you every minute” There was a time when they loved each other immensely but know do not acknowledge each other. i will have such revenge on you both”. He is shown weak in this scene assuring Regan that she is different from her sister in Act 2. He is trying to find some good in Regan as he cannot believe she is like Goneril. Willy damaged his relationship by having an affair whereas Lear gave away his kingdom and treated his daughters with love not deserving any hatred they have towards him. When Lear leaves his daughters refuse to go after him saying Lear needs to be taught a lesson even if he gets hit in the face by lightening and order the doors to be closed. This trouble has been caused by Lear’s own as he submitted to flattery and handed over his kingdom in a moment of foolishness. The behaviour of his daughters is making him crumble. Howard pays no attention to Willy. In Act 1 page 9 Biff addresses His issue “why does dad mock me all the time?” This shows Biff is confused and doesn’t understand why Willy does this. Due to his own error in judgement a tragic reversal has taken place and he has lost his power and his daughters. He spent his whole life interacting with people but no one thought him important enough to pay their last respects. Willy mocks Biff all the time and this is alienates them further. This hatred is both ways as he detests his daughters. boys. On page 16 this is shown “Terrific. Good work Biff. In the end his hard work did not pay off as he was dismissed like all those years meant nothing. His fatal flaw is that he made the wrong judgement like Lear and chased “wrong dreams” Madness is a theme that links King Lear and Death of a Salesman. scene 1 Lear is wandering the heath in the storm like a madman commanding the storm to destroy the earth. Salesmen American were “self made men” who with goods sold their personalities too. totally ignoring him. In contrast to that before Biff found out about the affair they used to be best friends. In Act 1 Lear’s daughter Goneril turns against him and undermines his authority. Lear’s second daughter Regan also turns against him in Act 2. scene 4 lines 277. “O sir! You are old: nature in your stand on the very verge of her confine: you should be ruled and led by some discretion that discerns your state better than you yourself”. His funeral showed he was not “well liked” or respected as no one came.036 In contrast Willy Loman always wants success but never achieves any. On the other hand Willy and Biffs’ relationship was not always troubled and changed from a loving and stable due to Willy’s actions. This portrays his failure as he has worked all his life but failed in earning respect for himself. He is a dreamer who clung to the “American dream” believing in its strength.278 Lear curses his daughters “ no you unnatural hags. Terrific job. He calls his daughters witches and promises revenge. Howard tells Willy that “there is just no spot for you”. This shows the start of a troubled relationship between Lear and his daughter. Lear now has issues with all his daughters and is distanced from them. thou shalt never have my curse: thy tender – hefted nature shall not give”.Mehvish ul-haq Word count – 2. He is so overcome with emotion that he is unable to sustain an argument and is becoming weak. In other words she tells Lear that he should now listen to her and Goneril. scene 4 in lines 145.
036 confused and unstable and declares that the heavens are joined with his daughters in punishing him. Arthur Miller portrays Willy (as an “every man” however Willy) as wanting success and power but being unable to be successful in any way but Lear was powerful and had a high status and was respected in society but he lost it all due to his own foolish mistakes. confused man. They made their own lives tragedies as they made the wrong decisions in their lives. This is because he has lost everything that was dear to him and his own daughter’s have turned against him leaving him no choice but to turn mad. Lear’s harmatia is that he made the wrong error in judgement. He regrets the way he treats Linda but has to live with the consequences of his actions. He has been so badly hurt by his daughters that he imagines punishing them. she kicked the poor king her father”. When Biff says to Willy lets go and talk to mum he nervously says “no i don’t want to see her”. immobile.i here take my oath before this honourable assembly. He changed from being the “mighty Lear” to a weak old man with nothing to live for. He is a broken man who has lost all grips on reality. with guilt in his voice he is also nervous and repeats it harshly. In Act 2 when Biff tries talking to him he replies “I’m busy don’t bother me” he keeps repeating this and in stage directions it says that Willy is frozen and unable to move and is presented as a broken. He is confused with his life and many times has tried taking his life. “find out their enemies now. In Act 3 scene 4 Lear turns mad on the heath and begins tearing his clothes his talks are not making any sense showing him as being confused. Tremble thou wretch that hast within thee undivulged crimes”. He wants his daughters to be punished and justice to be served. 3 . The line “i am a man more sinned against then sinning” evokes a sense of pathos for Lear. He lives in the past and talks to himself and has time switches in which he goes back into his past when a memory is triggered. “tis Goneril. The intensity of his madness is shown in Act 3 scene 6 when Lear decides to stage the mock trial of his daughters.Mehvish ul-haq Word count – 2. Both protagonists Lear and Willy are similar and the main link between their characters is that their own decisions changed their lives and resulted in both their deaths. He remembers the way in which he was punished by his daughter and in turn wants to punish her. In the stage directions it says Willy is frozen. His outlook on life has changed but although he is now mad he is beginning to understand life better and how material things in life don’t matter. Sequences like this make the audience aware of Willy’s guilt and how in a moment his mood changes and he reacts harshly.
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