D. L. Hoeveler
In a footnote to an article on " Point of View in Death of a Salesman," Brian Parker observes that "the play's technique of presenting all events and characters as though strained through Willy's mind resembles the Morality technique in which characters and events are allegories of the central character's psychomachia."
Parker does not develop this idea, but it is an important one, for the drama can be interpreted as a psychomachia, and doing so will shed light on the perennial objection to the play, that it is a confused mingling of expressionism and naturalism. The drama, for all its modernistic techniques, can be read very much like Everyman. Willy is, like that medieval hero, a generator of other personalities which are to a large extent fragmented aspects of himself. Angus Fletcher, in his study of allegory, makes some interesting remarks that can be applied to a reading of Willy's character:
The allegorical hero generates a number of other characters who react against or with him in a syllogistic manner. I say "generate" because the heroes in Dante and Spenser and Bunyan seem to create the worlds around them. They are like those people in real life who "project," ascribing fictitious personalities to those whom they meet and live with.... the finest hero will then be the one who most naturally seems to generate sub-characters—aspects of himself—who become the means by which he is revealed, facet by facet.
( Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode)
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Publication information: Book title: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Contributors: Harold Bloom - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 77.
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