The Fences of a Salesman Finding two corresponding plays can be a bit difficult especially when they are written by to different playwrights. For this essay I chose to link together the plays Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and Fences by August Wilson. The two of these plays compare to one another in multiple ways, but they also have their contrasting features. Most importantly, these plays connect by both of the fathers roles.
Rather it be the relationship between the fathers and their sons, their motives as fathers, their outlook on life or the way that the play is written, these two plays are alike as well as set apart from one another. Death of a salesman has an ironic title that coincides with the story. Sixty-three year old Willy Loman, a husband, brother, father and also salesman is an emotionally distraught character in this story. Willy has been through a lot which has caused him to become insecure and unappreciative to life, along with that he does understand himself. He has also been quite blind to love that his family has been trying to offer him.
He seems very confused with everything that has been thrown at him and he is ready to give up by committing suicide. He has two sons, Biff and Happy. Willy looks to Biff to be like him, a great salesman, or so he thinks that he is. Fences by is one of those plays that makes the audience dislike a character. Although we know that it is just a character, the way that it is written is as if it is real life. Troy Maxson was one of the main characters, and also the character hated most in the play. The characteristics that he possessed made him the one to dislike.
Troy was selfish, jealous and may have been a bit overprotective to the point where it made it seem that he was jealous of his own son. Troy had two sons also, Cory and Lyons. Troy did not have a close relationship with his son Lyons because he was from a previous marriage, but he also did not have one with Cory because he does not want Cory to follow in his footsteps as an athlete when Cory wants to. Both Willy and Troy want their sons to be like them in some sort of way. Willy has this idea that he has always been this great salesman and wants Biff to follow in his footsteps.
Troy on the other hand does not want his son to follow the same route that he did. These fathers compare as well as contrast from one another. Neither of them have the relationship with their sons that they think. Both of these men sons are not happy with that way they try to run their lives and it pushes them away from their fathers. Willy and his son Biff are closer than Willy and Happy, but they still are not as close as Willy wants them to be. Willy makes everything as if it is better than it really is which is why he is so unhappy.
Let him tell it, he was the best salesman ever, but in his mind that is not what he really thought of himself. He never thought that he was good enough which is why he wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Willy thinks that Biff son becoming a successful salesman like he wishes he were, would help him cope with the fact that he was never what he wanted to be. Although things did not work out how Willy would have loved them to, he still hopes his son’s future works out that way. Dissimilar to Willy wanting his son to follow his footsteps, Troy disagrees with Cory following his sports future.
Back in his day Troy was an excellent baseball player, but never made it anywhere because he was African-American. Cory wants to play football in his future and he has the talent to do so. Troy feels that if Cory were to give up everything and focus on being a pro athlete, he will eventually get let down. What Troy wants for Cory is for him to grow and be a man and take care of his family by getting a real job. He says to his son, “I thought we had a understanding about this football stuff? You suppose to keep up with your chores and hold that job down at the A&P.
Ain’t been around all day on a Saturday. Ain’t none of your chores done. . . and now you telling me you done quit your job. ” I feel like Troy did not want any of this for his son because he was jealous that his career in baseball never went where he wanted it to go. Instead of encouraging his son to go for his dreams, he tore him down and told him that he would never be anything. Both Willy and Troy tend to think that they were more successful at what they did than anyone else. This causes them both trouble with their family members and also themselves.
Thinking that they were always superior caused both of these character to eventually think that they were nothing when they ended up not getting the applause from everyone that that thought they would or should get. In Willy’s case, he just knew that he was the best salesman around; he thought that everyone liked him and he was so special. It was a huge eye opener for him when he realized he was not on the top one everyone’s list. This caused him to become the character that we saw in the play. He was always down on himself because for so long he put himself on a pedestal and when reality hit him he could not handle it. His et down caused him to want his son to follow in his footsteps to become the popular salesman he never made it to be. This is how he differs from Troy. Troy on the other hand was so fascinated with himself being this marvelous baseball player. The fact that that he never made it anywhere with baseball brought him down more than he realized. He blames the white man for killing his dreams, he was denied because of the color of his skin. Troy feels as if he wasted his time and all his talent trying to do something that he never had a chance at. This causes Troy to discourage his son Cory from wanted to play a professional sport.
Troy contrasts from Willy because he does not want his son to follow the dream he had himself. Troy constantly reminds Cory how great he was at baseball and just because he had the talent did not mean he would be able to play. As I stated there are multiple ways that these plays and characters compare and contrast. There has been indication of both comparing and contrasting features. One of the features that would fit under both of those categories would be the writing style of the plays. Miller‘s writing style is more flashbacking while Wilson’s style includes more of a storytelling flow.
The indications of these writing styles add ethnicity to the two plays. These two stories are so much alike; those writing styles complement the twist to them. Miller’s flashbacking allows audience to reason with Willy being stuck in the past and the life that he used to have. It also allows audiences to see what Willy is unhappy about with his past and how much it affects his life today. Willy has flashbacks about his life when he was younger, when his kids were younger and how much happier he was. He also has flashbacks of when he was having an affair.
Between baseball and death, throughout the play Fences, we hear multiple stories from Troy. He tells stories about when he used to play baseball and how well he played and he tells stories about the many times that he has talked to death and looked death in the eye. Troy. Death standing there staring at me . . . carrying that sickle in his hand. Finally he say, “You want bound over for another year? ” See, just like that . . . “You want bound over for another year? ” I told him, “Bound over hell! Let’s settle this now! ” It seem like he kinda fell back when I said that, and all the cold went out of me.
I reached down and grabbed that sickle and threw it just as far as I could throw it. . . and me and him commenced to wrestling. We wrestled for three days and three nights. I didn’t say where I found the strength from. Every time it seemed like he was gonna get the best of me, I’d reach way down deep inside myself and find the strength to do him one better. Rose. Every time Troy tell that story he find different ways to tell it. Different things to make up about it. Troy is constantly making up stories about his life. This shows the writing style that Wilson wanted to incorporate in the text.
Storytelling is a style that shows— Neither of these men are happy with their lives, families, their past and apparently their wives. Along with death being an item comparing the two, having an affair is another problem. Both Willy and Troy are having an affair. They are trying to find happiness in all the wrong ways and it is not working for either of them. It is not secret that Willy and Troy are having affairs because everyone seems to know about it. One of the reasons that Biff is angered with his father and wants nothing to do with him is that fact that he is having this affair with another woman and breaking up their family.
It upsets Biff that Willy does these things for his mistress that he never does for his own wife. Willy knows that what he is doing is wrong and is hurting his family, but cannot seem to make things right. The only way he thinks things will be fixed is it he was to die. Many bad things can come out of someone having an affair, but the worst would have to be having a child by that person. Troy’s affair with another woman was not secret to his wife Rose, but she chose to ignore it. He would lie about going to have a drink with his friend Bono, when he would really be down at the bar hooking up with his mistress.
The truth came out when the love-child was born. Although Rose was disappointed with all that Troy did to her, she still stuck by his side and made sure that his child had was taken care of after the mother died giving birth. Death is the number one comparison the two of these plays share. Throughout both of the plays there multiple links, but the ending of both stories are the most alike from all of the other comparisons shown. Both characters mention death multiple times and their stories end with them dying. Although there were different approaches on death in the plays, it was still brought into the story with both fathers.
In Death of a Salesman, ironically the title foretells the ending. Willy talks multiple times about committing suicide. Toward the end of Act II we see Willy talking to his brother Ben, who is deceased, having a conversation with one another. Ben is telling his brother that if he were to commit suicide his wife Linda will receive the twenty thousand dollar life insurance policy that she deserves. In that part of the conversation we see that Willy notices all that he has done to hurt his family and he is ready to get it over with. Willy also brags about how popular he was as a salesman and how many people will attend his funeral.
While talking to Ben, Willy says: Willy. …Ben, that funeral will be massive! They’ll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old-timers 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! Willy want Biff to see how great of a salesman and person that he was so that he will someday follow him, but Biff does not respect his father all that much.
Speaking with death is opposite of wanting to commit suicide, but maybe what Wilson was trying to get audience to see is that Troy is ready for death. In his constant speeches about looking death in the eye and fighting with death, it is almost as if Troy is obsessed with death. He never mentioned wanting to die or committing suicide, but we can clearly see that he is not happy and would rather give it all to death. Sadly enough, both plays ended with a funeral for the two men. Both Troy and Willy lost their lives in the end of the plays.
Through all the bad that these men had done to tear their families about, their families were still sad and hurt to see them go. While both Rose and Linda were hurt the worst out of all their husbands had done, they were the only ones holding their families together in the end. Linda was very confused about Willy killing himself. Her statement, “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. ” , expresses her confusion.
Linda is also upset and confused about why none of Willy’s friends or co-workers showed up for the funeral. There was a lot that Linda did not know about Willy included the fact that he had lost his job, but she still loved him and wanted everyone else to. Although Troy never showed Cory the love and support he deserved, Rose made sure that Cory respected his father enough to attend his funeral. Rose. Don’t nobody have to listen to nothing like that. I know you and your daddy ain’t seen eye to eye, but I ain’t got to listen to that kind of talk this morning. Whatever was between you and your daddy. . . he time has come to put it aside. Just take it and set it over there on the shelf and forget about it. Disrespecting your daddy ain’t gonna make you a man, Cory. You got to find a way to come to that on your own. Not going to your daddy’s funeral ain’t gonna make you a man. Troy’s wife was exceptionally strong. After Troy passed away from a heart attack Rose did all that should could to make sure that her family stayed together. Rose was kind enough to take in Troy’s child that he had with another one and she raised her as if she were her own. Cory’s resentment toward Troy ended when he decided to show up for his father’s funeral.