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9. Act I – “Attention must be paid”
About this Lecture
In this module, we read through the next part of Act I, continuing with Willy’s conversation with Ben about their father and his [Willy’s] sons (p. 34) and ending with Biff’s argument with Linda (p. 42). In particular, we think about: (i) the remainder of Willy’s conversation with Ben, its length and structure, and the theme of wasted time; (ii) Biff’s realisation that his parents aren’t as young as they used to be (“Your hair… Your hair got so gray”, p. 39); and (iii) the argument between Linda and Biff, and Linda’s famous line that “attention must be paid” to Willy.
In this nineteen-part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, literary and cultural context, before going through the play scene-by-scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism, and more.
Note: Page numbers are based on the Penguin edition of the play (1998, ed. Christopher Bigsby). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both text and page numbers.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2021, January 22). Miller: Death of a Salesman - Act I – “Attention must be paid” [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/miller-death-of-a-salesman-mcrae/act-i-attention-must-be-paid
McRae, J. "Miller: Death of a Salesman – Act I – “Attention must be paid”." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Jan 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/miller-death-of-a-salesman-mcrae/act-i-attention-must-be-paid