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The Use of Flashbacks in Death of a Salesman

No one has a perfect life. Everyone has conflicts that they must face sooner or later. The ways in which people deal with these personal conflicts can differ as much as the people themselves. Some insist on ignoring the problem as long as possible, while some attack the problem to get it out of the way. Willy Loman's technique in Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, leads to very severe consequences. Willy never really does anything to help the situation, he just escapes into the past, whether intentionally or not, to happier times were problems were scarce. He uses this escape as if it were a narcotic, and as the play progresses, the reader learns that it can be a dangerous drug, because of its addictiveness and it's deadliness.
The first time Willy is seen lapsing off into the past is when he encounters Biff after arriving home. The conversation between Willy and Linda reflects Willy's disappointment in Biff and what he has become, which is, for the most part, a bum. After failing to deal adequately with his feelings, he escapes into a time when things were better for his family. It is not uncommon for one to think of better times at low points in their life in order to cheer themselves up so that they are able to deal with the problems they encounter, but Willy Loman takes it one step further. His refusal to accept reality is so strong that in his mind he is transported back in time to relive one of the happier days of his life. It was a time when no one argued, Willy and Linda were younger, the financial situation was less of a burden, and Biff and Happy enthusiastically welcomed their father back home from a long road trip. Willy's need for the "drug" is satiated and he is reassured that everything will turn out okay, and the family will soon be as happy as it was in the good old days.
The next flashback occurs during a discussion between Willy and Linda. Willy is depressed about his inability to make enough money to supp...

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