BANG! Your father is dead. Within a few seconds, although he attempted many times, your father dies. He gave up. All the fights, all the disrespect, and all the struggles are behind you. However, all the hope, all the passion, and all the love is still there. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the main conflict is between Willy Lowman and his son Biff. Most of their struggles are based on disrespect; however, much of the tension throughout the play is also caused by the act of giving up. Disrespectfulness is the cause of personal tension in this play.
There are many occurrences where a character is being disrespectful, which triggers emotional and physical conflicts. Throughout the movie, Willy is extremely disrespectful to his wife Linda. He loses his patience every time she talks during a conversation that he is having. When he talks to Biff at the table about his new job opportunities, Linda adds some remarks like, “I’ll make breakfast,” (1853) and Willy loses his control. He turns to her quickly and tells her to shut up. Sometimes he even puts his finger angrily to her face, screaming at her to shut her mouth, even though she is just adding relative comments.
Linda does not lose respect for Willy for his actions as much as Biff does. Biff cares about his mother dearly and does not like to see her being yelled at. He grinds his teeth when he sees his father yell at his mother, because he knows that if he argues, there will be that much more tension between him and his father. However, Biff cannot take it much longer because he is losing respect for his father. He knows his father should never get physical with his mother, and he finally takes action before it gets violent. He grabs Willy by the arm and screams at him not to yell at her. Willy gets angry at first, but then goes to bed guilt-ridden.
Loss of respect can ruin a relationship. Biff left town for many reasons, but one important one had to do with Willy cheating on his wife. During a flashback in the play, Willy is in a room with a woman when Biff knocks on the door. The woman was actually in the washroom as Biff came in, but came out before Biff left. Biff saw the woman and knew that his father was not being loyal to his mother. Biff sat there in shock, and then broke into tears. Biff lost all respect for his father after seeing this. He then told his father not to talk to his teacher about the grade change, and also told him that he’s not going to summer school.
Willy’s unfaithfulness left Biff emotionally distraught, and his actions weren’t just showing disrespect to Biff, but to Linda as well. Disrespect can ruin a relationship, but giving up can end a relationship. Biff was a very determined boy in high school. After finding out about his father’s affair, he decides he had to get away. Biff gave up on college, gave up on football, and gave up on his family. He left town and tried to start a new life. When he came back, he and his father had fights all the time because of his departure. Biff thought that giving up meant that he could just get away from all his problems and have no worries.
However, he came back to find out that his father was trying to kill himself. He then realized how much of an impact giving up on his family did to his father. He knew now that his father was dying and that he could not give up on him again. He tried and tried but his father was not easy to talk to. He even tried to get a job to make his father proud, but failed. He knew giving up ruined his family, but there was nothing he could do. At the end of the play, Biff was in another argument with his father and simply could not take it anymore.
He said, “will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens? ” (1885) Once again Biff gave up. He told his father he was leaving in the morning. A few moments after that, Willy killed himself. Disrespect created a lot of tension between Biff and Willy. However, they did not get along to begin with. The fights between them became repetitive, and it ended with them giving up. Biff gave up near the end by telling his father he was leaving; however, Willy is the true coward because he killed himself.