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Krohn, A. (1988). The Source of Manhood in Death of a Salesman. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 15:455-463.

(1988). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 15:455-463

The Source of Manhood in Death of a Salesman

Alan Krohn


An infantile fantasy of acquiring generative, productive, and paternal capacity by incorporating the phallus of the father is studied through analysis of the classic American play, Death of a Salesman. The play richly presents the fantasy that for a man to build something in his life, and to be a father who can promote his son's achievements, phallic power must be received directly from his own father or father substitute. When such power has not been freely given by a man who has it, it must be stolen. Willy Loman plays out the tragic consequences for a man who feels he had failed to incorporate this phallic power. Willy's older brother represents the fulfilment of the fantasy: his personal mythology as it emerges in the play shows him to be an intact, complete man within this infantile, phallic fantasy. Near the conclusion of the play Biff begins to recognize the irrationality of this fantasy which opens to him the possibility that he will grow beyond it.

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