Hamlet Vs Death Of A Sales Man

Essay, Research Paper

Hamlet and Death of a Salesman:


The different relationships that a person experiences

throughout their life greatly affects their state of mind. If a person

is already troubled, then their mental health is susceptible to being

swayed for better or worse. Hamlet, and Death of a Sales Man are

plays which focus on the power a relationship has over ones state

of mind. In Hamlet it is Hamlet himself whose mental state is

altered by relationships in his life. Similarly, in Death of a Sales

Man, the relationships of the main character, Willy Loman,

transform his state of mind as well. From the start, Willy and

Hamlet are psychologically troubled. As the play progresses each

man s state of mind is exacerbated by their relationships with

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intimate partners, friends, and family.

In the play Hamlet, Hamlet s intimate relationship with

Ophelia changes his mental state for the worse. In a letter

Hamlet wrote Ophelia, it says Doubt thou the stars are fire;

Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never

doubt I love (Shakespeare 2.2.116-120). This poem clearly

indicates that Hamlet suspects Ophelia of lying to him, but never

the less he still loves her. Love is a powerful emotion and its effect

over mind and body are tremendous. This battle between Hamlet s

heart and his trust in Ophelia would affect the strongest of minds.

Similarly, in Death of a Salesman, Willy s wife Linda negatively

affects his state of mind. The only difference here is that Linda is

unconscious as to how her actions are affecting Willy. Linda s

effect on Willy is shown when she is in the kitchen mending her

stockings and Willy angrily takes the stockings from her and says,

I won t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw

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them out! (Miller 687). Willy says this because the act of Linda

mending her stockings brings back a slew of memories about an

affair Willy had had. Willy loves Linda and memories about a past

affair plays with his emotions. This internal conflict toys with

Willy and endangers his mental well being. In both plays, intimate

partners vastly affect each character s state of mind.

Another relationship in the play Hamlet that affects Hamlet s

well being is that with his friends. The two friends that contribute

to Hamlet s madness are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The King

addresses Hamlet s two friends and says:

I entreat you both that, being of so young days brought

up with him (Hamlet), and sith so neighbored to his

youth and havior, that you vouchsafe your rest here in

our court some little time, so by your companies to

draw him on to pleasures, and to gather so much as

from occasion you may glean, whether aught to us

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unknown afflicts him thus, that opened lies within our

remedy. (Shakespeare 2.2.10-19)

This shows that the King asks Guildenstern and Rosencrantz

to spy on Hamlet. Having his friends sneak around him and have

ulterior motives to spending time with him, makes Hamlet

suspicious of their intentions. Having this mistrust in his childhood

friends who he loved dearly deranged his mind. Similarly, in

Death of a Salesman, Willy s relationship with his friend Charley

has negative effects on Willy s state of mind. After Willy loses his

job as a Salesman, he refuses to accept Charlie s job offer. They

both get into a bit of an argument and Charley says, “You been

jealous of me all your life, you damned fool! (Miller 724).

Jealousy is a dangerous emotion that can foul up any man s head.

To harbor such jealousy, over your best friend s life since

childhood, would make anyone s state of mind take a turn for the

worse. In both plays, relationships with friends dangerously

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corrupts each man s mind.

The final relationship that affects Hamlet s mental health is

his relationship with his family. This is the relationship which

affects Hamlet s state of mind the greatest. Queen Gertrude says it

best when she says, I doubt it is no other but the main, His

father s death and our o erhasty marriage (Shakespeare 2.2.56-

57). As the Queen has said, the death of his Father and the haste

marriage of his mother to his uncle are the leading cause of

Hamlet s madness. These are the greatest factors that lead Hamlet

into insanity. If these same two actions would happen to any man

their state of mind would be altered in a way close to that of

Hamlet. Likewise Willy s state of mind is affected with his

relationship with his son Biff. He feels anger towards his father

who hits the nail right on the head when he says, Everything he

does is to spite me (Miller 746). Willy loves Biff with all his heart

and Biff hates his father. This hurts his father to no end, and

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makes his father emotionally unstable. This is the major factor that

led to Willy s madness. In both plays, the primary character s

relationships with their families are the most severe for them, and

are the most significant factors leading to their unstable states of

mind, well being and irrational behavior.

The driving force behind the apparent madness of Willy and

Hamlet, is a direct cause of their different relationships. Their love

for their intimate partners mixed with betrayal, altered both of their

states of mind. Moreover, their relationships with friends brought

out horrid emotions that created a volatile slew of thoughts in both

characters heads. In addition, both of their relationships with their

families proved to be the most significant for them, and was the

major force behind their madness. Relationships throughout our

lives, no matter how small, form who we are significantly define

our state of mind.


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