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Willy Loman's Descent Into Insanity Essay

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Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman follows protagonist Willy Loman in his search to better his and his family’s lives. Throughout Willy Loman’s career, his mind starts to wear down, causing predicaments between his wife, two sons and close friends. Willy’s descent into insanity is slowly but surely is taking its toll on him, his job and his family. They cannot understand why the man they have trusted for support all these years is suddenly losing his mind. Along with his slope into insanity, Willy’s actions become more aggressive and odd as the play goes on. Despite Willy and Biff’s “family feud”, his two sons Happy and Biff truly worry about their father’s transformation, Happy saying: “He just wants you to make good, that’s all. I wanted to talk to you about dad for a long time, Biff. Something’s – happening to him. He – talks to himself” (Miller 21). Willy, as a father, cares about his children but he wishes they would do better. He believes Biff should have been an athlete. According to Harrington, “Even figuratively, Willy is haunted, and particularly in Biff’s failure to achieve success as a sports figure” (108). This haunting is part of what led to Willy’s slow plunge into madness. As Willy’s career in sales fails, he also fails, even failing his family. Heyen adds: “He didn’t have anything of real value to give to his family, or if he did, he didn’t know what it was” (48). His debilitating flashbacks and delusional hallucinations with Uncle Ben cement his horrifying realizations that he has let down his family. Willy Loman blames the economy for his downfall in his career. In one of his more extreme outbursts he exclaims, “There’s more people! That’s what’s ruining this country! Population is getting out of control. ...


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... Shmoop.com
Shmoop University, Inc. 25 Feb 2012.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Dallas, Pennsylvania:
Viking Press, 1949. Print.
“The Coward Revealed in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.” 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2012
.
Harrington, Gary. "Enriching the Historical Context of
Salesman." Bloom's Guides: Death of a Salesman. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2011. 108. Print.
Heyen, William. "Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and
the American Dream." Modern Critical Interpretation: Death of a Salesman. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1988. 48-9. Print.
Phelps, H. C. "Miller's Death of a Salesman." Explicator 53.4 (Summer 1995): 239-240. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 179. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center. Web. 14 Mar. 2012.


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