Death of a Salesman



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Raffoul 1

Samantha Raffoul

MW 11:30 Eiland

Response 4

Death of a Salesman

Anything but Father

“Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller is a tragic drama about a father who ultimately commits suicide due to his unhappiness with his seemingly unsuccessful life. Through a series of events, he loses the respect of his son Biff. Analyzing Biff from a psychoanalytical standpoint, we can see just how much his father’s actions affected him through his actions to be just the opposite of what his father wants him to be.

Through a psychoanalytical standpoint we can see how Biff is experiencing classic Oedipus complex, which occurs when a child goes through the psychosexual stage of development and has both desire for his mother and jealousy and rage towards his father (Freud). This came about through a series of events. Firstly, Biff discovers that his father is having an affair with a woman when he catches Willie with the woman in the bathroom and hears her say “I can’t go out naked in the hall” (Miller, 1700). Biff is horrified at this particular discover and ends up yelling at his father “You fake! You phony little fake! You fake” (Miller, 1701). This clearly is a gateway to Biff being protective of his mother and would cause severe anger and resentment towards his father. He also lost faith in the man he used to think of as someone to look up to. Now he has lost respect because Willy is clearly not respecting his own marriage and Biff’s mother. Boys are naturally protectors of loved ones, and a bond with a mother is incredibly strong. We also see Biff rise up, once again opposing his father to protect his mother when she and Willy are fighting, demanding his father “Stop yelling at her” (Miller, 1675)! This shows a lack of fear of authority as well, which is also due to a loss of respect for his father. Freud believed that as the child grows in the Oedipus complex and realizes the differences between men and women, he has a fear of being taken over or “castrated” both literally and figuratively by his father for his rebellion against him and the desire for his mother and his desire to protect her (Freud). Biff was willing to stand up to his father and appears unafraid; however, standing up could also been seen as showing his masculinity with him trying to prove his strength by putting it in his father’s face.



As we can see when psychoanalyzing Biff, Biff is exhibiting the Oedipus complex and is feeling great jealousy and anger towards his father. He has lost all respect for him. He has also taken it upon himself to protect his mother in any way possible, even if it is purely verbal protection.


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