Arthur Miller - The Death of a Salesman

20. září 2011 | 11.20 |

The Characters:

  • Willy Loman, the Salesman, is past sixty years of age,
  • Linda, his wife, more than loves him, she admires him, as though his mercurial nature, his temper, his massive dreams and little cruelties, served her only as sharp reminders of the turbulent longings within him, longings which she shares but lacks the temperament to utter and follow to their end.
  • Biff is two years older than his brother Happy, well built, but in these days bears a worn air and seems less self-assured. He has succeeded less, and his dreams are stronger and less acceptable than Happy's.
  • Happy is tall, powerfully made. Sexuality is like a visible color on him, or a scent that many women have discovered. He, like his brother, is lost, but in a different way, for he has never allowed himself to turn his face toward defeat and is thus more confused and hard-skinned, although seemingly more content.)
  • Bernard, is younger than Biff, earnest and loyal, a worried boy
  • Charley is a large man, slow of speech, laconic, immovable.
  • Uncle Ben is a stolid man, in his sixties, with a mustache and an authoritative air. He is utterly certain of his destiny, and there is an aura of far places about him.


WILLY: Figure it out. Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there's nobody to live in it.
LINDA: Well, dear, life is a casting off. It's always that way.
WILLY: You're my foundation and my support, Linda.
LINDA: Just try to relax, dear. You make mountains out of molehills.
LINDA: And the boys, Willy. Few men are idolized by their children the way you are.
WILLY (with great feeling): You're the best there is, Linda, you're a pal, you know that? On the road — on the road I want to grab you sometimes and just kiss the life outa you.
WILLY: The world is an oyster, but you don't crack it open on a mattress!
LINDA: A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man. He works for a company thirty-six years this March, opens up unheard- of territories to their trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary away.
LINDA: Are they any worse than his sons? When he brought them business, when he was young, they were glad to see him. But now his old friends, the old buyers that loved him so and always found some order to hand him in a pinch — they're all dead, retired. He used to be able to make six, seven calls a day in Boston. Now he takes his valises out of the car and puts them back and takes them out again and he's exhausted. Instead of walking he talks now. He drives seven hundred miles, and when he gets there no one knows him any more, no one welcomes him. And what goes through a man's mind, driving seven hundred miles home without having earned a cent? Why shouldn't he talk to himself? Why? When he has to go to Charley and borrow fifty dollars a week and pretend to me that it's his pay? How long can that go on? How long? You see what I'm sitting here and waiting for? And you tell me he has no character? The man who never worked a day but for your benefit? When does he get the medal for that? Is this his reward — to turn around at the age of sixty-three and find his sons, who he loved better than his life, one a philandering bum.

WILLY: Oh, yeah, my father lived many years in Alaska. He was an adventurous man. We've got quite a little streak of selfreliance in our family. I thought I'd go out with my older brother and try to locate him, and maybe settle in the North with the old man. And I was almost decided to go, when I met a salesman in the Parker House. His name was Dave Singleman. And he was eighty-four years old, and he'd drummed merchandise in thirty-one states. And old Dave, he'd go up to his room, y'understand, put on his green velvet slippers — I'll never forget — and pick up his phone and call the buyers, and without ever leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ‘Cause what could
be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eightyfour, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? Do you know? When he died — and by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of the New York, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston — when he died, hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. Things were sad on a lotta trains for months after that. (He stands up. Howard has not looked at him.) In those days there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude in it. Today, it's all cut and dried, and there's no chance for bringing friendship to bear — or personality. You see what I mean? They don't know me any more.
wILLY: You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit!
WILLY: I can't throw myself on my sons. I'm not a cripple!
BERNARD: But sometimes, Willy, it's better for a man just to walk away.
WILLY: Walk away?
BERNARD: That's right.
WILLY: But if you can't walk away?
BERNARD (after a slight pause): I guess that's when it's tough.
WILLY: Charley, I'm strapped. I'm strapped. I don't know what to do. I was just fired.
CHARLEY: Howard fired you?
WILLY: That snotnose. Imagine that? I named him. I named him Howard.
CHARLEY: Willy, when're you gonna realize that them things don't mean anything? You named him Howard, but you can't sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you're a salesman, and you don't know that.
WILLY: I've always tried to think otherwise, I guess. I always felt that if a man was impressive, and well liked, that nothing...
WILLY (moving to the right): Funny, y'know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.
CHARLEY: Willy, nobody's worth nothin' dead. (After a slight pause.) Did you hear what I said? (Willy stands still, dreaming.)
HAPPY: Dad is never so happy as when he's looking forward to something!
WILLY (now assured, with rising power): Oh, Ben, that's the whole beauty of it! I see it like a diamond, shining in the dark, hard and rough, that I can pick up and touch in my hand. Not like — like an appointment! This would not be another damned-fool appointment, Ben, and it changes all the aspects. Because he thinks I'm nothing, see, and so he spites me. But the funeral... (Straightening up.) Ben, that funeral will be massive! They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the oldtimers with the strange license plates — that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized — I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey — I am known, Ben, and he'll see it with his eyes once and for all. He'll see what I am, Ben! He's in for a shock, that boy!
BIFF: I stole myself out of every good job since high school!
WILLY: And whose fault is that?
BIFF: And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! That's whose fault it is!
BIFF: No! Nobody's hanging himself, Willy! I ran down eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped, you hear me? And in the middle of that office building, do you hear this? I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw — the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don't want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! Why can't I say that, Willy?
CHARLEY: It's getting dark, Linda.
(Linda doesn't react. She stares at the grave.)
BIFF: How about it, Mom? Better get some rest, heh? They'll be closing the gate soon.
(Linda makes no move. Pause.)
HAPPY (deeply angered): He had no right to do that. There was no necessity for it. We would've helped him.
CHARLEY (grunting): Hmmm.
BIFF: Come along, Mom.
LINDA: Why didn't anybody come?
CHARLEY: It was a very nice funeral.
LINDA: But where are all the people he knew? Maybe they blame him.
CHARLEY: Naa. It's a rough world, Linda. They wouldn't blame him.
LINDA: I can't understand it. At this time especially. First time in thirty-five years we were just about free and clear. He only needed a little salary. He was even finished with the dentist.
CHARLEY: No man only needs a little salary.
LINDA: I can't understand it.
BIFF: There were a lot of nice days. When he'd come home from a trip; or on Sundays, making the stoop; finishing the cellar; putting on the new porch; when he built the extra bathroom; and put up the garage. You know something, Charley, there's more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.
CHARLEY: Yeah. He was a happy man with a batch of cement.
LINDA: He was so wonderful with his hands.
BIFF: He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong.
HAPPY (almost ready to fight Biff): Don't say that!
BIFF: He never knew who he was.
CHARLEY (stopping Happy's movement and reply. To Biff): Nobody dast blame this man. You don't understand: Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a Shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that's an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you're finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.
BIFF: Charley, the man didn't know who he was.
HAPPY (infuriated): Don't say that!
BIFF: Why don't you come with me, Happy?
HAPPY: I'm not licked that easily. I'm staying right in this city, and I'm gonna beat this racket! (He looks at Biff, his chin set.) The Loman Brothers!
BIFF: I know who I am, kid.
HAPPY: All right, boy. I'm gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It's the only dream you can have — to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him.
BIFF (with a hopeless glance at Happy, bends toward his mother): Let's go, Mom.
LINDA: I'll be with you in a minute. Go on, Charley. (He hesitates.) I want to, just for a minute. I never had a chance to say good-by.
(Charley moves away, followed by Happy. Biff remains a slight distance up and left of Linda. She sits there, summoning herself. The flute begins, not far away, playing behind her speech.)
LINDA: Forgive me, dear. I can't cry. I don't know what it is, I can't cry. I don't understand it. Why did you ever do that? Help me Willy, I can't cry. It seems to me that you're just on another trip. I keep expecting you. Willy, dear, I can't cry. Why did you do it? I search and search and I search, and I can't understand it, Willy. I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there'll be nobody home. (A sob rises in her throat.) We're free and clear. (Sobbing more fully, released.) We're free. (Biff comes slowly toward her.) We're free... We're free...


  • be crestfallen - být sklíčený, skleslý
  • buckle down - začít makat
  • I have heartburn - Pálí mě žáha.
  • He always wiped the floor with you. - Vždycky s tebou zametal.
  • indignantly - pobouřeně
  • let's buck him up - pojďme ho povzbudit.
  • The tap is dripping. - kape kohoutek.
  • scrapyard (BrE), junkyard (AmE) - vrakoviště, skládka šrotu
  • it's on its last legs - mele z posledního
  • Pull yourself together - vzchop se, Dej se do kupy
  • That clinches it. - Tím se všechno vyřešilo
  • overstrung - vystresovaný, podrážděný
  • He had a swell time with us. - (AmE) - Měl se s námi parádně
  • They walked out on him. - Opustili ho.
  • ins and outs - veškeré detaily
  • I'm through with it. - Už s tím končím.
  • I'm a dime a dozen. - jsem dvanáct do tuctu (běžný, nezajímavý)

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