Some insist on ignoring theproblem as long as possible, while some attack the problem to get it out of theway. Willy Lowman’s technique in Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman,leads to very severe consequences. Willy never really does anything to help thesituation, he just escapes into the past, whether intentionally or not, tohappier times were problems were scarce. He uses this escape as if it were anarcotic, and as the play progresses, the reader learns that it can be adangerous drug, because of it’s addictiveness and it’s deadliness.
The first time Willy is seen lapsing off into the past is when heencounters Biff after arriving home. The conversation between Willy and Lindareflects Willy’s disappointment in Biff and what he has become, which is, forthe most part, a bum. After failing to deal adequately with his feelings, heescapes into a time when things were better for his family. It is not uncommonfor one to think of better times at low points in their life in order to cheerthemselves up so that they are able to deal with the problems they encounter,but Willy Lowman takes it one step further.
His refusal to accept reality is sostrong that in his mind he is transported back in time to relive one of thehappier days of his life. It was a time when no one argued, Willy and Linda wereyounger, the financial situation was less of a burden, and Biff and Happyenthusiastically welcomed their father back home from a long road trip. Willy’sneed for the “drug” is satiated and he is reassured that everything will turnout 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 support hisfamily, his looks, his personality and the success of his friend and neighbor,Charley. “My God if business doesn’t pick up , I don’t know what I’m gonna do!”(36) is the comment made by Willy after Linda figures the difference between thefamily’s income and their expenses. Before Linda has a chance to offer anywords of consolation Willy blurts out “I’m Fat. I’m very–foolish to look at,Linda” (37).
In doing this he has depressed himself so much that he is visitedby a woman with whom he is having an affair. The woman’s purpose in this pointof the play is to cheer him up. She raises his spirits by telling him how funnyand loveable he is, saying “You do make me laugh. . . .
And I think you’re awonderful man. ” (38). And when he is reassured of his attractiveness andcompetence, the woman disappears, her purpose being fulfilled. Once again thedrug has come to the rescue, postponing Willy’s having to actually do somethingabout his problem. The next day, when Willy is fired after initially going to ask his bossto be relocated is when the next journey into the past occurs.
The point of theplay during which this episode takes place is so dramatic that willy seeks a bighit of the flashback drug. Such a big hit in fact, that he is transported backto what was probably the happiest day of his life. Biff was going to play inEbbets field in the All-Scholastic Championship game in front of thousands ofpeople. Willy couldn’t be prouder of his two popular sons who at the time hadeverything going for them and seemed destined to live great, important lives,much more so than the “liked, but not well liked” boy next door, Bernard.
Willy’s dependency on the “drug” is becoming greater by the hour, at this rate,he cannot remain sane for much longer. Too much of anything, even a good thing, can quickly become a bad thing. Evidence of this statement is seen during Willy’s next flashback, when the drughe has been using for so long to avoid his problems backfires, giving him a “badtrip”, quite possibly a side effect of overuse. This time he is brought back toone of the most