I try not to blog about the same thing twice but I couldn’t resist when right after I blogged about “mansplaining”, I found so many examples in Death of a Salesman. Especially towards the end, when Willy is really losing it, he mansplains in an attempt to regain control of his life. What it comes down to is that Willy lived a fraudulent, unsuccessful life but no one dares argue with him. They let him keep his last shred of dignity through listening and agreeing to his antics. When Biff, the only one to really argue with Willy, puts the facts out in the open, he is shunned and quieted by Linda and Happy. It seems that mansplaining can even be used to protect ones ego and to excuse away any error in judgement or fault of character. Even if it is not technically “mansplaining” because it is directed not just at women, the concept of building yourself up by overstating and explaining something to someone who already knows what you are saying, is evident all over the place and it really irks me.
On page 1076, Bernard also challenges Willy when Biff decided to not complete his flunked math class over the summer, accusing Willy of putting the thoughts in his head. At first, Willy thinks the idea is preposterous(“Me? I begged him to go. I ordered him to go!”). As Bernard persists, Willy says, “It keeps going around in my mind, maybe I did something to him. I got nothing to give him.” He completely takes over Bernard’s ideas, he is disinterested when Bernard says it but once he steals it, it becomes his idea and it is of the utmost importance. When he takes over someone else’s idea and mansplains, Willy feels he has authority and is in touch with reality which really shows just how crazy he really is. He is at a loss for words when Bernard says that it was his fault, the opposite of what Willy was thinking. Bernard opens up Willy’s ignorance and fraud, leading Willy to get defensive and say whatever it takes to make people think better of him. I think overtaking another’s ideas goes along with mansplaining, like that person can put it so much better than the other could so they restate another persons words, to, I think, make it sound better for themselves. On page 1085, Happy says, “He told him my Florida idea” and Willy cuts him off to say, “Don’t interrupt, how’d he react to the Florida idea?” Another example is on page 1098 where Biff is fed up with Willy and ready to leave the house and Willy says he won’t have Biff blaming his downfall on Willy and Biff says, “I’m not blaming it on you” and Willy responds, “I won’t take the rap for this, you hear?” Overall, the main idea is that Willy just doesn’t listen, he is in his own world and winds up hurting the people closest to him and offending people he meets throughout his life. No one wants to face reality and so they respectfully listen to Willy and treat him as an equal, or even with reverence and unfortunately, people do that today, even toward people who don’t have any illness.