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How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Shown in Willy Loman Throughout Death of a Salesman?

  • Date Submitted: 04/12/2012 12:47 PM
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English Literature – Coursework                                      
‘How is Schizoaffective Disorder shown in Willy Loman throughout Death of a Salesman?’

Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, is a play set in the 1950’s where an old salesman Willy Loman lives the life of ‘the average man’. Willy believes firmly in his success in the business world and sees himself as a successful salesman, whereas the reality is that Willy is a quintessential failure. Although Willy and his family are ridden with repayments and debt, Willy obsesses with the positive aspects of life and will not hear anything negative, including; his family’s life, his legacy, his two sons and in general anything which directly involves Willy. His refusal to negativity also leads to his volatile personality, along with completely random hallucinations and conversations with his deceased brother Ben which trigger his mood swings – either happy or angry.   On the occasion in which Willy is told of his failures, he blocks it out in all possible ways; violence, memory and hallucinations, anything to resist the harshness of reality and these are all an example of how Willy uses his mental disorder as a defensive mechanism.

At the beginning of the play, we are immediately confronted with Willy’s mental disorder and incapacity to tell the difference between past and present as he remarks to Linda, his wife, that while driving his Chevy to Florida he opened the windshield “I opened the windshield and let the warm air bathe over me” – this would appear normal however later it’s revealed in the play that he was just reminiscing that he was driving his Chevy at the same time his sons were at high school. This obsessive and persistent recollection of his past is an attempt to live in denial - as Willy did not earn a pay check; he subconsciously rejects the reality of the event and concentrates on better times in the past. This is a clear example of his defence mechanism, instead of admitting...


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