Death of a Salesman and The Playboy of the Western World “While the momentum of the play is carried by major characters, there is often a significant minor character who is a catalyst for change or enlightenment. ” Compare the role of a significant minor character in plays you have studied, showing how these characters contribute to the dramatic action. In both Death of a Salesman and The Playboy of the Western World minor characters play a fundamental role and contribute to the dramatic action in many different ways.
Linda in Death of a Salesman is a crucial minor character who helps to unfold the plot of the play by significantly affecting the protagonist of the play Willy. In The Playboy of the Western World Widow Quinn is an important minor character which helps the audience to visualise the protagonist Christy’s different faces. They are both strong female characters who effectively manage change the development of the major characters of the plays in different ways. It is important to realise that Linda is Willy’s wife whereas Widow Quinn is merely a woman interested in Christy.
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Therefore, their different relationships with the major characters are important in revealing their actions with them. Both minor characters are presented differently to the audience. This is important in unfolding their relationship with other characters in the plays. Linda in Death of a Salesman is directly presented to the audience as being a loving wife in her conversation with Willy when he acknowledges that she is caring and wonderful, ‘You’re my foundation and support Linda’. In contrast, Shawn Keogh and Pegeen Mike act as dramatic devices to present Widow Quinn to the audience.
This is evident in their conversation when Shawn says. ‘Would I fetch you the Widow Quinn, maybe? ‘ and Pegeen responds, ‘Is it the like of that murderer? You’ll not, surely. ‘ A negative image of Widow Quinn is created in the minds of the audience and this serves to contrast later on in the play when Widow Quinn tries to save Christy’s life. The way in which both Linda and Window Quinn’s relationship which the major characters of the play unfolds is important to understand because it contributes to the dramatic action in the play.
Throughout Death of a Salesman Linda is perhaps the strongest character in the family. She supports Willy by increasing his confidence and could also be considered as a peacemaker of the family, ‘Come up and say goodnight to him. Don’t let him go to bed that way. ‘ It is evident here that she wants Biff and Willy to stop their day-to-day arguments. She tries to keep everyone in the family happy. Widow Quinn in The Playboy of the Western World on the other hand is an astute character. Her interest in Christy is visible to the audience when she wants him to leave with her, ‘I’m going; but he’ll come with me. However, when Christy refuses to go with her she is calm and tranquil about it. She is perhaps the cleverest character in the play. Her astuteness is demonstrated to the audience when she agrees to help Shawn Keogh with Pegeen and agrees to marry Christy just for is sake whereas she would like to marry him anyway. In return she also demands for other things, ‘Aye. Would you give me the red cow you have and the mountainy ram, and the right of way across your rye path, and a load of dung at Michaelmas, and turbary upon the western hill? ‘ Linda and Widow Quinn both have another side to themselves.
This other side is unexpected by the audience and contributes to the dramatic action in either plays. Linda’s other side is visible to the audience when Happy and Biff leave Willy in the restaurant alone, ‘You’re a pair of animals! Not one, not another living soul would have had the cruelty to walk out on that man in a restaurant! ‘ The audience has never seen Linda as infuriated as she has always been the peacemaker and tranquiliser of the family. Her change in character also emphasises the fact that she is supportive to Willy because she wants to be like that not because she is dominated by him.
Widow Quinn, although having failed to obtain Christy’s love tries to save him towards the end of the play, ‘Come by the back door. I’d think bad to have you stifled on the gallows tree. ‘ This action of saving Christy is unexpected as Christy never gave her his love which she longed for. Overall, it is evident that Widow Quinn and Linda play an important role and greatly contribute to the dramatic action in the plays. This effectively maintains the audience’s attention and allows the plot to unfold thus contributing to the dramatic action.