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Everyman is an English morality play but the author is anonymous.

The play was written in the 15th century and it is thought to be derived from a Dutch play with the same theme. While the author is unknown, it is believed to be written by a priest. The reason is that the play has a religious content and morale message. Everyman is the story of a man who suddenly faces with God. There are many characters in the play and one of them is Death who is sent by God to Everyman for his pilgrimage which is his last journey. When God send Death to Everyman, he asks him if he had forgotten his creator because Everyman is very much concerned with worldly things. He is in lust and interested in treasure during his life. When Death goes to Everyman to take him to his last journey, he wants him to take his full book of of accounts. It means all the good and bad things that he has done during his life. As Everyman is occupied with worldly concerns only and understands that this journey will determine whether he is going to hell or heaven, he cries in vain and asks Death if he has to be alone during the journey. Death tells him that he can have company who may wish to make the journey with him and gives him some time to find one.
Everyman is left alone and asks

O, to whom shall I make me moan For to go with me in that heavy journey?

He recaps how he has been deserted, one after the other, by Fellowship, his kinsmen, and his Goods (whom, he says, he loved best). He feels ashamed that he did not realize that Goods brought people towards hell and says that he himself is worthy to be blamed. He decides to turn to Good Deeds but worries that she is so weak that she can neither go nor speak.

When Good Deeds enters, she does not need to hear from Everyman about his pilgrimage or that he has been summoned to make his account she knows already. Good Deeds says that Everymans book of account would be in great shape if only he had focused his attention on her. As he has n ot spent any time with Good Deeds, though, she is weak and cannot go with him. She does, though, have a sister who can accompany Everyman Knowledge.

Knowledge enters and tells Everyman I will go with thee and be thy guide. Everyman is delighted. With Knowledge by his side, Everyman decides to go and fi nd Confession in the House of Salvation. Confession is then seen at a distance within the House of Salvation. Everyman kneels to him and asks for mercy.

Confession, like Good Deeds before him, knows already of Everymans sorrow, but can give him the comfort of a precious jewel called penance. Jesus, Confession continues, suffered on the cross for mankind, so man in turn must remember Jesus in suffering himself by undergoing the scourge of penance. Confession tells Everyman to fulfill this penance, and that Knowledge will tell him how he can clear his account book with God.

Everyman makes a long prayer to God, begging for forgiveness and mercy. At the end of this speech, he strips off his fine clothes and takes the scourge. Knowledge says now Everyman can make his reckoning sure. Everyman continues to scourge himself for the sins of the flesh. With that, Good De eds is suddenly able to walk; she gets up and announces she is able to go with Everyman. This makes Everymans heart l ight, and he scourges himself even faster than he did before.

Knowledge then hands Everyman the Garment of Contrition, which he is to put on to rid him from sorrow. The Garment, Knowledge tells Everyman, pleaseth God passing well. Everyman puts on the garment. Everymans reckoning is now clear and he is ready to go on his way.


Students often struggle with the verse form of the Everyman. You often see it called iambic tetrameter or iambic pentameter, but in fact, the verse form is more irregular than that. To take two lines at random, for example, and highlight using CAPITAL LETTERS a strong beat, leaving a weak beat in lower case, would look something like this:

WASH fro ME the SPOTS of VICE unCLEAN that ON me NO sin MAY be SEEN

It is certainly true that the second of these two lines is a regular line of iambic tetrameter, but the first is missing an initial weak stress if it is a line of pentameter. The writer also regularly employs lines which have far too many or too few beats to be a pentame ter or tetrameter line: like, for example, O glorious fountain, that all uncleanness doth clarify (l.545). We might best describe the verse form as irregular rhyming verse (which tends towards rhyming couplets).

This section begins with one of Everymans soliloquies. Everyman soliloquizes several times during the play, and a soliloquy is a speech made by a character who is alone on stage, sometimes addressed to the audience, but sometimes intended more as spoken thought as if the character is talking to him or herself. As we have no information about the original stage history of Everyman, it is impossible to say whether or not Everyman might have addressed an audience directly with his problems, though if he did, the stagecraft itself would provide a neat encapsulation of Everymans own role in the play: Everyman talking to every man. His problems, shared with the audience, would become their problems which, considering Everyman represents humankind, they are anyway!

Why, some students often ask, does Everyman not immediately go to his grave once his Good Deeds has emerged? Though it is not stated particularly clearly in the play, it likely would have been common knowledge among Everymans original audience. Christian doctrine teaches that good deeds are of no use to a man in a state of sin: and, just as Catholics today believe, Everyman must cleanse himself of sin before he can progress to make his reckoning and be rewarded for his good deeds.

It is Good Deeds sister, Knowledge, who takes over at this point as Everymans guide, who perhaps, rather than knowledge in a more general sense, could be said to represent acknowledgement of ones own sin. Everyman has to face up to and repent for his own actions. It is interesting that we do n ot really see Everyman commit sin; his sins, of course, have been committed before the play begins, which is the reason that God calls Death to visit Everyman in the first place.

Victorian critics read the play through the lens of the seven deadly sins, and it is certainly true that all of those sins seem to be underlined in either Everyman or one of his friends at some point during the play. We have already seen how Fellowship wants to feast, drink and consort with women (gluttony and lechery) and the odd mention of murder as a form of entertainment (wrath). Everymans fine clothes and his lofty offer to bribe Death with a thousand pounds might be seen as rep resenting pride and covetousness. All of Everymans friends, as G.A. Lester has noted, by their unwillingness to go on the journey could be said to exemplify sloth, and Goods shows a recognized form of envy in showing such delight in Everymans bad fortunes.

Everymans scourge is usually interpreted as Everyman whipping himself; an example of the common medieval idea that physical pain would teach man to be sorry for his sins. It is still a practice today in some forms of Christianity. That this is depicted on stage (rather than just d escribed) is perhaps unusual, though it is perhaps an essential step in this sections point-by-point examination of the road to salvation as late medieval Christianity taught it: contrition (feeling sorry for the sin), confession (confessing the sin), absolution (making amends for the sin) and finally satisfaction and salvation. It is another interest moment to consider tone. Might Everymans scourging be depicted as bloody and painful, a reminder of the grisly consequences of sin? Would it shock the audience with its realism, or simply be a symbolic representation of absolution? It is almost impossible to say with any certainty, though it is an important choice for any modern production.

The sharp-eyed reader may well have noted that line 552 refers to Shrift (meaning confession) as the mother of salvation, where lines 539-40 make it quite clear that Confession is a holy man. Is Confession a male or a female? The critic Cawley (editor of one of the best regarded editions of the play) b elieves this to be intended figuratively the idea of mother is metaphorical rather than literal though it could just as easily be a mistake in the extant text.

Everyman was first published in England early in the sixteenth century. This English play is now thought to be based on an earlier Dutch play, Elckerlijc, published in 1495. It is unknown if Everyman was ever staged in the era in which it first appeared. The title page states ''Here begynneth a treatyse. This implies that the text may have been intended as reading material. Frequently, authors composed a treatise containing dialogue to create an additional emphasis on an idea, in this case a preparation for God's judgment. Such works were often created without any intention of performance. This may be true for Everyman; however, even if it was not performed, it is clear that the text was very popular, since there are four separate editions from the first half of the sixteenth century that have survived to this day. Frequent reprintings indicate that the text was bought and read a great deal, if not performed. Although none of the characters in Everyman have any depth, the influence on later drama is especially clear when readers compare the medieval character archetypes with those created for Elizabethan drama. Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus is often cited as an example of how the medieval morality play influenced later theatre. Marlowe's characters would be easily recognizable to anyone who had read Everyman. There is also the same emphasis on worldly goods and on knowledge. But Marlowe takes the ideas in Everyman even further and argues that even knowledge can be perverted. But the same idea that man can seek forgiveness and salvation through contrition still appears. Everyman is considered one of the most accessible of the medieval morality plays because the language is closer to modern English and the story is clearly told.
Historical Context and Authorship: Written in England during the 1400s, The Summoning of Everyman (commonly known as Everyman) is a Christian morality play. No one knows who wrote the play Everyman. Historians have noted that monks and priests often wrote these types of dramas. Many morality plays were a collaborative effort by clergymen and residents (often tradesmen and guild members) of the English town. Over the years, lines would be changed, added, and deleted. Therefore, Everyman is probably the result of multiple authors and decades of literary evolution. Theme of Everyman: As one might expect from a morality play, Everyman has a very clear moral, one that is delivered in the beginning, middle, and end. The blatantly religious message is simple: Earthly comforts are fleeting. Only good deeds and Gods grace can provide salvation. The lessons of the play are delivered in the form of allegorical characters, each one representing a variety of abstract concepts (i.e. Good Deeds, Material Possessions, and Knowledge). The Basic Storyline: God decides that Everyman (a character who represents your average, everyday human) has become too obsessed with wealth and material possessions. Therefore, Everyman must be taught a lesson in piety. And who better to teach a life-lesson than a character named Death?

Man is Unkind: Gods chief complaint is that humans are ignorantly leading sinful lives, unaware that Jesus died for their sins. Everyman has been living for his own pleasure, forgetting about the importance of charity and the potential threat of eternal hellfire. Upon Gods bidding, Death summons Everyman to take a pilgrimage to the Almighty. When Everyman realizes that the Grim Reaper has called upon him to face God and give a reckoning of his life, he tries to bribe Death to defer this matter till another day. The bargaining doesnt work. Everyman must go before God, never to return to Earth again. Death does say that our hapless hero can take along anyone or anything that may benefit him during this spiritual trial. Friends and Family Are Fickle: After Death leaves Everyman to prepare for his day of reckoning (the moment in which God judges him), Everyman approaches a character named Fellowship, a supporting role that represents Everymans friends. At first Fellowship is full of bravado. When Fellowship learns that Everyman is in trouble, he promises to stay with him until the problem is resolved. However, as soon as Everyman reveals that Death has summoned him to stand before God, Fellowship ditches the poor guy. Kindred and Cousin, two characters that represent family relationships, make similar promises. Kindred declares: In wealth and woe we will with you hold, / For over his kin a man may be bold. But once they realize Everymans destination, they back out. One of the funnie st moments in the play is when Cousin refuses to go because he has a cramp in his toe. The overall message of the plays first half is that relatives and friends (as reliable as they may seem) pale in comparison to the steadfast companionship of God. Goods VS Good Deeds: After getting rejected by fellow humans, Everyman turns his hopes to inanimate objects. He talks to a character named Goods, a role which represents Everymans material possessions and wealth. Everyman pleads for Goods to assist him in his hour of need, but they offer no comfort. In fact, the Goods chide Everyman, suggesting that he should have admired material objects moderately, and that he should have given some of his goods to the poor. Not wanting to visit God (and subsequently be sent to hell) Goods abandons Everyman. Finally, Everyman meets a character that will genuinely care for his plight. Good-Deeds is a character who symbolizes the acts of charity and kindness performed by Everyman. However, when the audience first meets Good-Deeds, she is lying on the ground, severely weakened by Everymans many sins.

Tom Wingfield Toms double role in The Glass Menagerieas a character whose recollections the play documents and as a character who acts within those recollectionsunderlines the plays tension between objectively presented dramatic truth and memorys distortion of truth. Unlike the other characters, Tom sometimes addresses the audience directly, seeking to provide a more detached explanation and assessment of what has been happening onstage. But at the same time, he demonstrates real and sometimes juvenile emotions as he takes part in the plays action. This duality can frustrate our understanding of Tom, as it is hard to decide whether he is a character whose assessments should be trusted or one who allows his emotions to affect his judgment. It also shows how the nature of recollection is itself problematic: memory often involves confronting a past in which one was less virtuous than one is now. Because The Glass Menagerie is partly autobiographical, and because Tom is a stand-in for the playwright himself (Williamss given name was Thomas, and he, like Tom, spent part of his youth in St. Louis with an unstable mother and sister, his father absent much of the time), we can apply this comment on the nature of memory to Williamss memories of his own youth. Even taken as a single character, Tom is full of contradiction. On the one hand, he reads literature, writes poetry, and dreams of escape, adventure, and higher things. On the other hand, he seems inextricably bound to the squalid, petty world of the Wingfield household. We know that he reads D. H. Lawrence and follows political developments in Europe, but the content of his intellectual life is otherwise hard to discern. We have no idea of Toms opinion on Lawrence, nor do we have any indication of what Toms poetry is about. All we learn is what he thinks about his mother, his sister, and his warehouse job precisely the things from which he claims he wants to escape. Toms attitude toward Amanda and Laura has puzzled critics. Even though he clearly cares for them, he is frequently indifferent and even cruel toward them. His speech at the close of the play demonstrates his strong feelings for Laura. But he cruelly deserts her and Amanda, and not once in the course of the play does he behave kindly or lovingly toward Laura not even when he knocks down her glass menagerie. Critics have suggested that Toms confusing behavior indicates an incestuous attraction toward his sister and his shame over that attraction. This theory casts an interesting light on certain moments of the play for example, when Amanda and Tom discuss Laura at the end of Scene Five. Toms insistence that Laura is hopelessly peculiar and cannot survive in the outside world, while Amanda (and later Jim) claims that Lauras oddness is a positive thing, could have as much to do with his jealous desire to keep his sister to himself as with Lauras own quirks. Amanda Wingfield If there is a signature character type that marks Tennessee Williamss dramatic work, it is undeniably that of the faded Sout hern belle. Amanda is a clear representative of this type. In general, a Tennessee Williams faded belle is from a prominent Southern family, has received a traditional upbringing, and has suffered a reversal of economic and social fortune at some point in her life. Like Amanda, these women all have a hard time coming to terms with their new status in society and indeed, with modern society in general, which disregards the social distinctions that they were taught to value. Their relationships with men and their families are turbulent, and they staunchly defend the values of their past. As with Amanda, their maintenance of genteel manners in very ungenteel surroundings can appear tragic, comic, or downright grotesque. Amanda is the plays most extroverted and theatrical character, and one of modern American dramas most coveted female roles (the acclaimed stage actress Laurette Taylor came out of semi-retirement to play the role in the original production, and a number of legendary actresses, including Jessica Tandy, have since taken on the role). Amandas constant nagging of Tom and her refusal to see Laura for who she really is are cert ainly reprehensible, but Amanda also reveals a willingness to sacrifice for her loved ones that is in many ways unparalleled in the play. She subjects herself to the humiliating drudgery of subscription sales in order to enhance Lauras marriage prospects, without ever uttering so much as a word of complaint. The safest conclusion to draw is that Amanda is not evil but is deeply flawed. In fact, her flaws are centrally responsible for the tragedy, comedy, and theatrical flair of her character. Like her children, Amanda withdraws from reality into fantasy. Unlike them, she is convinced that she is not doing so and, consequently, is constantly making efforts to engage with people and the world outside her family. Amandas monologues to her children, on the phone, and to Jim all reflect quite clearly her moral and psychological failings, but they are also some of the most colorful and unforgettable words in the play. Laura Wingfield The physically and emotionally crippled Laura is the only character in the play who never does anything to hurt anyone else. Despite the weight of her own problems, she displays a pure compassionas with the tears she sheds over Toms unhappiness, described by Amanda in Scene Fourthat stands in stark contrast to the selfishness and grudging sacrifices that characterize the Wingfield household. Laura also has the fewest lines in the play, which contributes to her aura of selflessness. Yet she is the axis around which the plot turns, and the most prominent symbolsblue roses, the glass unicorn, the entire glass menagerieall in some sense represent her. Laura is as rare and peculiar as a blue rose or a unicorn, and she is as delicate as a glass figurine. Other characters seem to assume that, like a piece of transparent glass, which is colorless until light shines upon it, Laura can take on whatever color they wish. Thus, Amanda both uses the contrast between herself and Laura to emphasize the glamour of her own youth and to fuel her hope of re-creating that youth through Laura. Tom and Jim both see Laura as an exotic creature, completely and rather quaintly foreign to the rest of the world. Yet Lauras crush on the high school hero, Jim, is a rather ordinary sc hoolgirl sentiment, and a girl as supposedly fragile as Laura could hardly handle the days she spends walking the streets in the cold to avoid going to typing class. Through actions like these, Laura repeatedly displays a will of her own that defies others perception s of her, and this will repeatedly goes unacknowledged.

Before beginning this summary and analysis of Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, it is important to point out that this play is not happening in the narrators (Toms) present, but it is based on his memories. The setting of The Glass Menagerie is a cramped apartment in a lower-class part of St. Louis in the year 1937. The main character and narrator of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Tom, is in a merchant sailors uniform and he details the setting even further, telling us that Americas lower classes are still recovering from the Great Depression. In the early stages of the plot of the Glass Menagerie, we also learn that his father left the family a long time ago, even though there is a picture of him that is plain sight throughout The Glass Menagerie. While Tom is speaking (as well as throughout the play) pay attention to the screen which presents certain words and images important to the text and try to imagine how this might be if you were sitting in the audience. In these first few scenes of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, we meet the mother, Amanda, who still seems caught up in her life as a former Southern belle. She chides both of her children about being odd (Laura wears a brace on her leg and is painfully shy while Tom writes poetry and disappears every night to go the movies and get away from the depressing house). Laura is a fragile figure and collects glass animals and one night, when Amanda and Tom quarrel, he breaks several of Lauras prized possessions. True to her character in The Glass Menagerie, Laura does not angry, she only becomes more sad and fragile and the family that is falling apart before her eyes. Amanda is constantly pressuring Laura (click for a character analysis of Laura in The Glass Menagerie) to find a suitor and even enrolls her daughter in business classes to improve her chances of snagging a man. Instead of going to these, however, she skips class and wanders through the streets with her gimp leg simply because she is too shy to manage. Both Tom and Laura live in their own fantasy worlds and their mothers insistence that they strive to be better somehow only causes more tension. In a last-ditch effort to secure a husband for Laura, Amanda tells Tom to keep an eye out at the warehouse for a suitable match for Laura. Finally, Tom asks an acquaintance from work, Jim, to come over for dinner, not knowing that it was Lauras secret crush from high school whom she was far too shy to ever speak of. When he arrives, she hides for most of the evening until Jim brings her a glass of wine and the two sit and talk. He does not remember her until she says that he called her Blue Roses because he misunderstood the name of her disease. He tries to tell her to be more confident as he examines one of her favorite figurines a glass unicorn. Unfortunately, the unicorn slips from his hand and the horn breaks off, making it just a regular horse. Laura does not seem upset. He then tells her she needs to be kissed, and does so, sending the poor girl reeling. Unfortunately, he quickly leaves the house since he is to be married soon. Laura tells him to keep the unicorn as a souvenir and it is clear that she is crushed. At this point in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, the lights are all out (because Tom used the electric bill money to pay for his secret new job as a merchant sailor) and Amanda accuses Tom of bringing Jim even though he was engaged. Tom did not know Jim was engaged at he leaves, never to return again. He is narrating from the future in the play by Tennessee Williams and admits his guilt about leaving Laura. For anyone familiar with other plays by Tennessee Williams, particularly A Streetcar Named Desire,some of the characters in this work will seem familiar. The aging ex-Southern Belle, the mentally unstable young woman, the frustrated young man. This is partly because they are figures from Williams past and family life (see the biography). The reason why these characters resonate so clearly is because this is a play based on memoriesalbeit of Tom Wingfield. It would be rather simple to draw any number of parallels between Williams life and that of Tom Wingfieldthey both worked at a shoe factory, both had a sister with a crippling mental illness (and in the case of the play, a physical malady as well) and both dealt with a mother still living in her Southern Belle days. In short, if you havent yet read the biography of Tennessee Williams below or elsewhere, it might be illuminating, especially if youre going to go on to read Streetcaror Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Theme Analysis
Imprisonment and Escape The Wingfields' apartment is like a prison from which Amanda and Laura are unable to escape. By the end of the play, they are even more deeply enmeshed in their claustrophobic, closed world than they were at the beginning. Amanda's great hope was that Laura would graduate from a business college and pursue a career as a secretary, but once she finds out that Laura was too shy even to attend classes, she pins all her hopes on finding Laura a husband. When that scheme fails too, all hope seems lost. A life of worry, economic insecurity and dependency seems inevitable. As a contrast to this, an image of escape is presented throughout the play, in the form of the photograph of the father that hangs on the wall. But when Tom follows his father's example and walks out on his family, he finds that however far he travels, he remains trapped by the reach of memory. He cannot forget his sister and her plight. So in the end there is no escape from the family prison for any of the three characters. Illusions and Reality The two women in the play, Amanda and her daughter, Laura, live inside their own illusions because the outside world is too painful for them to face. Amanda lives in another time and place, the genteel, idealized world of the south during her youth. But St. Louis during the 1930s is a different proposition altogether, and Amanda fails to make the adjustment. She endlessly repeats exaggerated tales of the south, and her numerous "gentlemen callers." She assumes that what worked for her (even though the man she chose walked out on her) will work for Laura too, even though times have changed. Tom tries to force her to face the facts that Laura is different than other girls, but Amanda refuses to accept this. All she can do is wish on the moon that things will turn out the way she wants them to. Laura is even more deeply enmeshed in an illusory world than her mother. Too shy and too lacking in self-confidence to cope with the real world, she retreats to an inner world. She talks of her glass animals as if they are real beings, and her only other interest is in playing the old gramophone records that her father left behind. It is hard to imagine what the future might hold for her. The American Dream

Set against the economic frustration of the Wingfield family, which leads to a closed circle of experience, is the ideal of the American Dream, which points ever upward. In spite of her impoverished life in the St. Louis of the 1930s, Amanda is a believer in the Dream. She tells Tom that he simply has to work hard, and he will succeed. But the poetic, imaginative Tom is not the sort of man to cultivate a normal career leading to success and wealth. Those are not his goals. The idea of the American Dream is represented more by Jim. He is in love with the achievements and the promise of technology, and he has embraced the spirit of self-help and advancement through education. He believes that his life is on an upward trajectory, and that if he studies and plays his cards right, he can go as far as he wants to go in his career.

Death of a salesman
Willy Loman Despite his desperate searching through his past, Willy does not achieve the self-realization or self-knowledge typical of the tragic hero. The quasi-resolution that his suicide offers him represents only a partial discovery of the truth. While he achieves a professional understanding of himself and the fundamental nature of the sales profession, Willy fails to realize his personal failure and betrayal of his soul and family through the meticulously constructed artifice of his life. He cannot grasp the true personal, emotional, spiritual understanding of himself as a literal loman or low man. Willy is too driven by his own willy-ness or perverse willfulness to recognize the slanted reality that his desperate mind has forged. Still, many critics, focusing on Willys entrenchment in a quagmire of lies, delusions, and self -deceptions, ignore the significant accomplishment of his partial self-realization. Willys failure to recognize the anguished love offered to him by his family is crucial to the climax of his torturous day, and the play presents this incapacity as the real tragedy. Despite this failure, Willy makes the most extreme sacrifice in his attempt to leave an inheritance that will allow Biff to fulfill the American Dream. Bens final mantraThe jungle is dark, but full of diamondsturns Willys suicide into a metaphorical moral struggle, a final skewed ambition to realize his full commercial and material capacity. His final act, according to Ben, is not like an appointment at all but like a diamond . . . rough and hard to the touch. In the absence of any real degree of self -knowledge or truth, Willy is able to achieve a tangible result. In some respect, Willy does experience a sort of revelation, as he finally comes to understand that the product he sells is himself. Through the imaginary advice of Ben, Will y ends up fully believing his earlier assertion to Charley that after all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.

Biff Loman Unlike Willy and Happy, Biff feels compelled to seek the truth about himself. While his father and brother are unable to accept the miserable reality of their respective lives, Biff acknowledges his failure and eventually manages to confront it. Even the difference between his name and theirs reflects this polarity: whereas Willy and Happy willfully and happily delude themselves, Biff bristles stiffly at self-deception. Biffs discovery that Willy has a mistress strips him of his faith in Willy and Willys ambitions for him. Consequently, Willy sees Biff as an underachiever, while Biff sees himself as trapped in Willys grandiose fantasies. After his epiphany in Bill Olivers office, Biff determines to break through the lies surrounding the Loman family in order to come to realistic terms with his own life. Intent on revealing the simple and humble truth behind Willys fantasy, Biff longs for the territory (the symbolically free West) obscured by his fathers blind faith in a skewed, materialist version of the American Dream. Biffs identity crisis is a function of his and his fathers disillusionment, which, in order to reclaim his identity, he must expose.

Happy Loman Happy shares none of the poetry that erupts from Biff and that is buried in Willyhe is the stunted incarnation of Willys worst traits and the embodiment of the lie of the happy American Dream. As such, Hap py is a difficult character with whom to empathize. He is one-dimensional and static throughout the play. His empty vow to avenge Willys death by finally beat[ing] this racket provides evidence of his critical condition: for Happy, who has lived in the shadow of the inflated expectations of his brother, there is no escape from the Dreams indoctrinated lies. Happys diseased condition is irreparabl ehe lacks even the tiniest spark of self-knowledge or capacity for self-analysis. He does share Willys capacity for self-delusion, trumpeting himself as the assistant buyer at his store, when, in reality, he is only an assistant to the assistant buyer. He does not possess a hint of the latent thirst for knowledge that proves Biffs salvation. Happy is a doomed, utterly duped figure, destined to be swallowed up by the force of blind ambition that fuels his insatiable sex drive.

Linda Loman and Charley Linda and Charley serve as forces of reason throughout the play. Linda is probably the most enigmatic and complex character in Death of a Salesman, or even in all of Millers work. Linda views freedom as an escape from debt, the reward of total ownership of the material goods that symbolize success and stability. Willys prolonged obsession with the Am erican Dream seems, over the long years of his marriage, to have left Linda internally conflicted. Nevertheless, Linda, by far the toughest, most realistic, and most levelheaded character in the play, appears to have kept her emotional life intact. As such, she represents the emotional core of the drama. If Linda is a sort of emotional prophet, overcome by the inevitable end that she foresees with startling clarity, then Charley functions as a sort of poetic prophet or sage. Miller portrays Charley as ambiguously gendered or effeminate, much like Tiresias, the mythological seer in Sophocles Oedipus plays. Whereas Lindas lucid diagnosis of Willys rapid decline is made possible by her emotional sanity, Charleys prognosis of the situation is logical, grounded firmly in practical reasoned analysis. He recognizes Willys financial failure, and the job offer that he extends to Willy constitutes a commonsense solution. Though he is not terribly fond of Willy, Charley understands his plight and shields him from blame.

The American Dream

Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream that a well liked and personally attractive man in business will indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Oddly, his fixation with the superficial qualities of attractiveness and likeability is at odds with a more gritty, more rewarding understanding of the American Dream that identifies hard work without complaint as the key to success. Willys interpretation of likeability is superficialhe childishly dislikes Bernard because he considers Bernard a nerd. Willys blind faith in his stunted version of the America n Dream leads to his rapid psychological decline when he is unable to accept the disparity between the Dream and his own life.

Willys life charts a course from one abandonment to the next, leaving him in greater despair each time. Willys father leaves him and Ben when Willy is very young, leaving Willy neither a tangible (money) nor an intangible (history) legacy. Ben eventually departs for Alaska, leaving Willy to lose himself in a warped vision of the American Dream. Likely a result of these early experiences, Willy develops a fear of abandonment, which makes him want his family to conform to the American Dream. His efforts to raise perfect sons, however, reflect his inability to understand reality. The young Biff, whom Willy considers the embodiment of promise, drops Willy and Willys zealous ambitions for him when he finds out about Willys adultery. Biffs ongoing inability to succeed in business furthers his estrangement from Willy. When, at Franks Chop House, Willy finally believes that Biff is on the cusp of greatness, Biff shatters Willys illusions and, along with Happy, abandons the deluded, babbling Willy in the washroom.

Willys primary obsession throughout the play is what he considers to be Biffs betrayal of his ambitions for him. Willy beli eves that he has every right to expect Biff to fulfill the promise inherent in him. When Biff walks out on Willys ambitions for him, Willy takes this rejection as a personal affront (he associates it with insult and spite). Willy, after all, is a salesman, and Biffs ego-crushing rebuff ultimately reflects Willys inability to sell him on the American Dreamthe product in which Willy himself believes most faithfully. Willy assumes that Biffs betrayal stems from Biffs discovery of Willys affair with The Womana betrayal of Lindas love. Whereas Willy feels that Biff has betrayed him, Biff feels that Willy, a phony little fake, has betrayed him with his unending stream of ego-stroking lies.

Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the texts major themes.

Mythic Figures
Willys tendency to mythologize people contributes to his deluded understanding of the world. He speaks of Dave Singleman as a legend and imagines that his death must have been beautifully noble. Willy compares Biff and Happy to the mythic Greek figures Adonis and Hercul es because he believes that his sons are pinnacles of personal attractiveness and power through well liked-ness; to him, they seem the very incarnation of the American Dream. Willys mythologizing proves quite nearsighted, however. Willy fails to realize the hopelessness of Singlemans lonely, on -the-job, on-the-road death. Trying to achieve what he considers to be Singlemans heroic status, Willy commits himself to a pathetic death and meaningless legacy (even if Willys life insurance policy ends up paying off, Biff wants nothing to do with Willys ambition for him). Similarly, neither Biff nor Happy ends up leading an ideal, godlike life; while Happy does believe in the American Dream, it seems likely that he will end up no better off than the decidedly ungodlike Willy.

The American West, Alaska, and the African Jungle

These regions represent the potential of instinct to Biff and Willy. Willys father found success in Alaska and his brother, Ben, became rich in Africa; these exotic locales, especially when compared to Willys banal Brooklyn neighborhood, crystallize how Willys obsession with the commercial world of the city has trapped him in an unpleasant realit y. Whereas Alaska and the African jungle symbolize Willys failure, the American West, on the other hand, symbolizes Biffs potential. Biff realizes that he has been content only when working on farms, out in the open. His westward escape from both Willys delusions and the commercial world of the eastern United States suggests a nineteenth-century pioneer mentalityBiff, unlike Willy, recognizes the importance of the individual.

Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.

Seeds represent for Willy the opportunity to prove the worth of his labor, both as a salesman and a father. His desperate, nocturnal attempt to grow vegetables signifies his shame about barely being able to put food on the table and having nothing to leave his children when he passes. Willy feels that he has worked hard but fears that he will not be able to help his offspring any more than his own abandoning father helped him. The seeds also symbolize Willys sense of failure with Biff. Despite the American Dreams formula for success, which Willy considers infallible, Willys efforts to cultivate and nurture Biff went awry. Realizing that his all-American football star has turned into a lazy bum, Willy takes Biffs failure and lack of ambition as a reflection of his abilities as a father.

To Willy, diamonds represent tangible wealth and, hence, both validation of ones labor (and life) and the ability to pass material goods on to ones offspring, two things that Willy desperatel y craves. Correlatively, diamonds, the discovery of which made Ben a fortune, symbolize Willys failure as a salesman. Despite Willys belief in the American Dream, a belief unwavering to the extent that he passed up the opportunity to go with Ben to Alaska, the Dreams promise of financial security has eluded Willy. At the end of the play, Ben encourages Willy to enter the jungle finally an d retrieve this elusive diamondthat is, to kill himself for insurance money in order to make his life meaningful.

Lindas and The Womans Stockings

Willys strange obsession with the condition of Lindas stockings foreshadows his later flashback to Biffs discovery of him and The Woman in their Boston hotel room. The teenage Biff accuses Willy of giving away Lindas st ockings to The Woman. Stockings assume a metaphorical weight as the symbol of betrayal and sexual infidelity. New stockings are important for both Willys pride in being financially successful and thus able to provide for his family and for Willys ability to ease his guilt about, and suppress the memory of, his betrayal of Linda and Biff.

The Rubber Hose

The rubber hose is a stage prop that reminds the audience of Willys desperate attempts at suicide. He has apparently attempt ed to kill himself by inhaling gas, which is, ironically, the very substance essential to one of the most basic elements with which he must equip his home for his familys health and comfortheat. Literal death by inhaling gas parallels the metaphorical death that Willy feels in his struggle to afford such a basic necessity.

Summary The play begins on a Monday evening at the Loman family home in Brooklyn. After some light changes on stage and ambient flute music (the first instance of a motif connected to Willy Lomans faint memory of his father, who was once a flute-maker and salesman), Willy, a sixty-three-year-old traveling salesman, returns home early from a trip, apparently exhausted. His wife, Linda, gets out of bed to greet him. She asks if he had an automobile accident, since he once drove off a bridge into a river. Irritated, he replies that nothing happened. Willy explains that he kept falling into a trance while drivinghe reveals later that he almost hit a boy. Linda urges him to ask his employer, Howard Wagner, for a non-traveling job in New York City. Willys two adult sons, Biff and Happy, are visiting. Before he left that morning, Willy crit icized Biff for working at manual labor on farms and horse ranches in the West. The argument that ensued was left unresolved. Willy says that his thirty-four-year-old son is a lazy bum. Shortly thereafter, he declares that Biff is anything but lazy. Willys habit of contradicting himself becomes quickly apparent in his conversation with Linda. Willys loud rambling wakes his sons. They speculate that he had another accident. Linda returns to bed while Willy goes to the kitchen to get something to eat. Happy and Biff reminisce about the good old days when they were young. Although Happy, thirty-two, is younger than Biff, he is more confident and more successful. Biff seems worn, apprehensive, and confused. Happy is worried about Willys habit of talking to himself. Most of the time, Happy observes, Willy talks to the absent Biff about his disappointment in Biffs unsteadiness. Biff hopped from job to job after high school and is concerned that he has waste[d] his life. He is disappointed in him self and in the disparity between his life and the notions of value and success with which Willy indoctrinated him as a boy. Happy has a steady job in New York, but the rat race does not satisfy him. He and Biff fantasize briefly about going out west together. However, Happy still longs to become an important executive. He sleeps with the girlfriends and fiances of his superiors and often takes bribes in an attempt to climb the corporate ladder from his position as an assistant to the assistant buyer in a department store. Biff plans to ask Bill Oliver, an old employer, for a loan to buy a ranch. He remembers that Oliver thought highly of him and offered to help him anytime. He wonders if Oliver still thinks that he stole a carton of basketballs while he was working at his store. Happy encourages his brother, commenting that Biff is well likeda sure predictor of success in the Loman household. The boys are disgusted to hear Willy talking to himself downstairs. They try to go to sleep.

Analysis It is important to note that much of the plays action takes place in Willys home. In the past, the Brooklyn neighborhood in which the Lomans live was nicely removed from the bustle of New York City. There was space within the neighborhood for expansion and for a garden. When Willy and Linda purchased it, it represented the ultimate expression of Willys hopes for the future. Now, how ever, the house is hemmed in by apartment buildings on all sides, and sunlight barely reaches their yard. Their abode has come to represent the reduction of Willys hopes, even though, ironically, his mortgage payments are almost complete. Just as the hou se is besieged by apartment buildings, Willys ego is besieged by doubts and mounting evidence that he will never experience the fame and fortune promised by the American Dream. Willys reality profoundly conflicts with his hopes. Throughout his life, he has constructed elaborate fantasies to deny the mounting evidence of his failure to fulfill his desires and expectations. By the time the play opens, Willy suffers from crippling self-delusion. His consciousness is so fractured that he cannot even maintain a consistent fantasy. In one moment, he calls Biff a lazy bum. In the next, he says that Biff is anything but lazy. His later assessment of the family car is similarly contradictoryone moment he calls it a piece of trash, the next the finest car ever built. Labeling Biff a lazy bum allows Willy to deflect Lindas criticism of h is harangue against Biffs lack of material success, ambition, and focus. Denying Biffs laziness enables Willy to hold onto the hope that Biff will someday, in some capacity, fulfill his expectations of him. Willy changes his interpretation of reality according to his psychological needs at the moment. He is likewise able to reimagine decisive moments in his past in his later daydreams. Ironically, he asks Linda angrily why he is always being contradicted, when it is usually he who contradicts himself from moment to moment. The opening pages of the play introduce the strangely affected and stilted tone of the dialogue, which transcends the 1950S idiom of nonspecific pet names (an ungendered pal or kid for adult and child alike) and dated metaphors, vocabulary, and slang. Some critics cite the driving, emphatic, repetitive diction (Maybe its your glasses. You never went for your new glasses; Im the New England man. Im vital in New England) and persistent vexed questioning (Why do you get American when I like Swiss? How c an they whip cheese?) as a particularly Jewish-American idiom, but the stylization of the speech serves a much more immediate end than stereotype or bigotry. Miller intended the singsong melodies of his often miserable and conflicted characters to parallel the complex struggle of a family with a skewed version of the American Dream trying to support itself. The dialogues crooked, blunt

lyricism of stuttering diction occasionally rises even to the level of the grotesque and inarticulate, as do the characters themselves. Miller himself claims in his autobiography that the characters in Death of a Salesman speak in a stylized manner to lift the experience into emergency speech of an unabashedly open kind rather than to proceed by the crabbed dramatic hints and pretexts of the natural.
Antigone Antigone is the play's tragic heroine. In the first moments of the play, Antigone is opposed to her radiant sister Ismene. Unlike her beautiful and docile sister, Antigone is scrawny, sallow, withdrawn, and recalcitrant brat. Like Anouilh's Eurydice, the heroine of his play Eurydice, and Joan of Arc, Antigone has a boyish physique and curses her girlhood. She is the antithesis of the melodramatic heroine, the archetypal blond ingnue as embodied in Ismene. Antigone has always been difficult, terrorizing Ismene as a child, always insisting on the gratification of her desires, refusing to "understand" the limits placed on her. Her envy of Ismene is clear. Ismene is entirely of this world, the object of all men's desires. Thus she will at one point rob Ismene of her feminine accoutrements to seduce her fianc Haemon. She fails, however, as such human pleasures are not meant for her. Generally audiences have received Anouilh's Antigone as a figure for French Resistance, Antigone appearing as the young girl who rises up alone against state power. Anouilh's adaptation strips Antigone's act of its moral, political, religious, and filial trappings, allowing it to emerge in all its gratuitousness. In the end, Antigone's tragedy rests in her refusal to cede on her desire. Against all prohibitions and without any just cause, she will bury her brother to the point of her own death. As we learn in her confrontation with Creon, this insistence on her desire locates her in a line of tragic heroes, specifically that of Oedipus. Like Oedipus, her insistence on her desire beyond the limits of reason render her ugly, abject, tabooed. In refusing to cede it, she moves outside the human community. As with Oedipus, it is precisely her moment of abjection, when she has lost all hope, when her tragic beauty emerges. Her beauty exerts a chilling fascination. As Ismene notes, Antigone is not beautiful like the rest, but beautiful in a way that stops children in the street, beautiful in a way that unsettles, frightens, and awes.

Creon Antigone's uncle, the powerfully built King Creon is a weary, wrinkled man suffering the burdens of rule. Before the deaths of Oedipus and his sons, he dedicated himself to art patronage but has now surrendered himself entirely to the throne. A practical man, he firmly distances himself from the tragic aspirations of Oedipus and his line. As he tells Antigone, his only interest is in political and social order. Creon is bound to ideas of good sense, simplicity, and the banal happiness of everyday life. To Creon, life is but the happiness one makes, the happiness that inheres in a grasped tool, a garden bench, a child playing at one's feet. Uninterested in playing the villain in his niece's tragedy, Creon has no desire to sentence Antigone to death. Antigone is far more useful to Thebes as mother to its heir than as its martyr, and he orders her crime covered-up. Though fond of Antigone, Creon will have no choice but to but to execute her. As the recalcitrant Antigone makes clear, by saying "yes" to state power, Creon has committed himself to acts he finds loathsome if the order of the state demands it. Antigone's insistence on her desire in face of state power brings ruin into Thebes and to Creon specifically. With the death of his family, Creon is left utterly alone in the palace. His throne even robs him of his mourning, the king and his pace sadly shuttling off to a cabinet meeting after the announcement of the family's deaths.

The Chorus In Greek tragedy, the Chorus consisted of a group of approximately ten people, playing the role of death messenger, dancing, singing, and commenting throughout from the margins of the action. Anouilh reduces the Chorus to a single figure who retains his collective function nevertheless. The Chorus represents an indeterminate group, be it the inhabitants of Thebes or the moved spectators. It also appears as narrator. The Chorus frames the play with a prologue and epilogue, introducing the action and characters under the sign of fatality. We see this fatalism most clearly perhaps its characteristic gesture of demonstration, prefacing many of its remarks with "Et voil" in the original script. In presenting the tragedy, the Chorus would instruct the audience on proper spectatorship, reappearing at the tragedy's pivotal moments to comment on the action or the nature of tragedy itself. Along with playing narrator, the Chorus also attempts to intercede throughout the play, whether on the behalf of the Theban people or the horrified spectators.

The Guards The three Guardsmen are interpolations into the Antigone legend, doubles for the rank-and-file fascist collaborators or collabos of Anouilh's day. The card-playing trio, made all the more mindless and indistinguishable in being grouped in three, emerges from a long stage tradition of the dull-witted police officer. As the Chorus notes, they smell of garlic and beer, concern themselves with the mundane, and are in general not bad people. Serving as a spokesman of sorts, the First Guard gives voice to their thoughts: they follow orders, and they cover for themselves when things go wrong. They are eternally indifferent, innocent, and ready to serve whatever powers that be. In other words, they have no particular loyalty to Creon. As the Chorus indicates, they would arrest him if need be. This indifference makes them brutal and dangerous. Some critics have taken Anouilh's guards, which stand in contrast to the royal heroes of tragedy, as the clearest manifestation of his "aristocratic pessimism." Importantly, the Guards also figure as inappropriate spectators: men left entirely untouched by the tragedy that unfolds before them. The Chorus makes this especially clear in the prologue and epilogue, where the trio appears idly playing cards. As the Chorus notes, the tragedy is "no skin of their backs." In this respect, the indifferent trio recalls the guardsmen from Anouilh's other tragedies, such as the guard whose chatter about the harvest close his Medea.

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols


The Nature of Tragedy

Halfway through the play, the Chorus appears on the scene to announce that the tragedy is on. His speech offers a meta-theatrical commentary on the nature of tragedy. Here, in apparently a reference to Jean Cocteau, tragedy appears as a machine in perfect order, a machine that proceeds automatically and has been ready since the beginning of time. Tension of the tragic plot is the tension of a spring: the most haphazard event sets it on its inexorable march: in some sense, it has been lying in wait for its catalyst. Tragedy belongs to an order outside human time and action. It will realize itself in spite of its players and all their attempts at intervention. Anouilh himself commented on the paradoxical nature of this suspense: "What was beautiful and is still beautiful about the time of the Greeks is knowing the end in advance. That is "real" suspense" As the Chorus notes, in tra gedy everything has "already happened." Anouilh's spectator has surrendered, masochistically, to a succession of events it can hardly bear to watch. "Suspense" here is the time before those events' realization. Having compared tragedy to other media, the Chorus then sets it off generically, specifically from the genre of melodrama. Tragedy is "restful" and "flawless," free of melodramatic stock characters, dialogues, and plot complications. All is inevitable. This inevitability lends, in spite of tragedy's tension, the genre "tranquility." Moreover, it gives its players innocence as they are only there to play their parts. Though Creon will later accuse Antigone of casting him as the "villain" in her little melodrama, the players are embroiled in a far more inexorable mechanism. Again, note the incommensurabilities between Anouilh's theory of the tragic and political allegory. The latter is necessarily engaged in the generally pedagogical passing of ethico-politico judgment, the arbitration of innocence, guilt, and complicity. Though tragic players face judgment, they do so on rather different terms.

The Sisters' Rivalry

As with Sophocles' sistes, Ismene and Antigone appear as foils and rivals. Ismene is "reasonable," timid, and obedient, full-figured and beautiful in being a good girl. In contrast, Antigone is recalcitrant, impulsive, and moody, sallow, thin, and decidedly resistant to being a girl like the rest. Though the Chorus emphasizes the play's distance from conventional melodrama, it is interesting to note how, in revision the opposition in Sophocles' version, it perhaps imports the good girl/bad girl structure typical of this genre, not to mention a number of rather "sentimental" scenes. Ismene advises moderation, understanding, and capitulation. They must take Creon's obligations into account. Anouilh develops another form of rivalry between the sisters with regards to femininity. Whereas Ismene is the appropriate, beautiful girl, Antigone curses her girlhood. Antigone in particular manifests her hatred for the ideal of femininity Ismene incarnates in their childhood, brutally binding her sister to a tree to stage her mutilation. Anouilh attributes Antigone's hate and envy in Ismene's capacity to figure as an object of desire, as the woman men want. Thus, in attempting to seduce Haemon and become "his woman," Antigone steals Ismene's goodslipstick, rouge, perfume, powder, and frockin another act of sisterly dismemberment. Through Ismene, Antigone would be a woman; as we will see, however, such "human" pleasures are not meant for her.


The Chorus
In Greek tragedy, the Chorus consisted of a group of approximately ten people, playing the role of death messenger, dancing, singing, and commenting throughout from the margins of the action. Anouilh reduces the Chorus to a single figure who retains his collective function nevertheless. The Chorus represents an indeterminate group, be it the inhabitants of Thebes or the moved spectators. It also appears as narrator, framing frames the tragedy with a prologue and epilogue. In the prologue, it directly addresses the audience and is self- conscious with regards to the spectacle: "we" are here tonight to take part in the story of Antigone. Like its ancient predecessor, Anouilh's Chorus prepares a ritual, instructing the audience on proper spectatorship. The Chorus then reappears throughout the play, marking its another turning points and futilely interceding into the action on "our"that is, the spectators' and Theban people'sbehalfs.

Tragic Beauty
As noted above, Antigone's insistence on her desire makes her monstrous, abject. At the same time, her abjection is her tragic beauty. Antigone announces this beauty throughout her encounter with Creon. Specifically Oedipus emerges as its model. Oedipus' moment of beauty comes at his moment of total abjection, the moment when he knew all and had lost all servile hope and passed beyond the human community in his transgression of its founding taboo. Like Oedipus, Antigone will become "beautiful" at the moment of his total ruin. As Ismene notes, Antigone's beauty is somehow not of this world, the kind of beauty that turns the heads of small childrenbe it in fear, awe, and otherwise.

The Tomb/Bridal Bed

A number of commentators have cast Antigone as a figure "between two deaths," what we will refer to here as her death as a social or even human being and her death as her demise. The space between two deaths is most certainly materialized her tomb, the cave in which she, as a tabooed and abject body, is to be immured to keep her from polluting the polis. Her death sentence makes her more wretched than animals; such is her "Oedipal" beauty, a beauty in her inhuman abjection. As she appears to sense, however, she will not die alone. Her "tomb" will also serve as her "bridal bed," Antigone ultimately bringing Haemon with her to the grave. Strangely, another of the tragedy's victim Queen Eurydicemeets her demise in another tomb that doubles as bridal chamber. Eurydice dies in her bedroom bedecked by familiar, comforting feminine accoutrements, appearing as a maiden queen of sorts, having scarcely changed since her first night with Creon. The wound in her neck appears all the more horrible in marring her virgin neck. Her death would appear all the more tragic because she dies in all her "feminine" purity.


The Gray World

Upon sneaking in from her brother's burial, Antigone tells the Nurse that she has come from a "gray world." Like many of Anouilh's heroines, Antigone wanders in this gray "nowhere," a world beyond the "post card" universe of the waking. This world is breathless with anticipation: it doubles the stage, set apart from the human world, upon which Antigone's tragedy will ensue. At the same time, the world of the living does not lie in wait for Antigone: she is meant to pass onto another.

Creon's attack
Anouilh symbolizes Antigone's transcendence of state power with Creon's assault on her person during their confrontation. Enraged by her proud defiance and his inability to sway her, Creon seizes Antigone and twists her to his side. The immediate pain passes, however: Creon squeezes to tightly, and Antigone feels nothing. Thus Antigone passes beyond the reach of state power and the realm of men.

Eurydice's Knitting
As the Chorus remarks, Queen Eurydice's function in the tragedy is to knit in her room until she dies. She is Creon's final lesson, her death leaving him utterly alone. In the report of her suicide, Eurydice will stop her knitting and the stab herself with her needle. The end of her knitting is the end of her life, evoking the familiar Greek myth of the life-thread spun, measured, and cut by the Fates.