Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Powerful Essays
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, [the protagonist] Willy Loman’s inability to live in and cope with the present ultimately destroys him. The are several constant themes and ideas throughout the play which show this. Willy’s inability to be successful according to his own standards is most problematical for him. The troublesome relationship between Willy and his family also leads to a great deal of stress. And the constants flashbacks and disillusions Willy goes through to deal with these problems bring him further from reality and destroy him.

The fact that Willy cannot be successful is perhaps his biggest problem. In escaping this reality he ultimately destroys himself. Willy says, “I did 500 gross in Providence and 700 gross in Boston.” “No! Wait a minute...that makes your commission $212!,” replies Linda “Well I didn’t figure it yet but...well I did about a hundred and eighty gross in Providence,” answers Willy (11). To cover up for his lack of success at work, Willy lies about how he does. He tries to make himself seem successful when in reality he needs to find a solution to his problems. He tries to bargain with his boss to get a steady paying job because he cannot live on the commission he is making. “If I could take home - well $65 a week, I could swing it...All I need is $50 a week...If I had $40 a week - that’s all I need,” Willy begs his boss (24).

His lack of success causes him to keep bargaining and will lead him to settle at just about anything. However the attempt to get a regular paying job turns out nothing short of failure. Failures such as this lead to Willy’s being fired. “I don’t want you to represent us, I’ve been meaning to tell you for a long time now,” says Howard (26). This obviously destroys his work life. These mounting problems of being unsuccessful at work build up leading to him ultimately being fired. There are several ways in which Willy avoids his problems. First, rather then deal with such situations Willy is stubborn and assumes things will take care of themselves. He uses this attitude when his long time friend Charley offers him a job. Charley says, “I offered you a job. You can make $50 a week, and I won’t send you on the road.” “I’ve got a job,”(30). Willy’s stubbornness won’t let him deal with reality, causing him to turn down an offer to fix a major problem. He denies his problems rather then taking t...

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...ot, and get right down the field under the ball...because it is important son...(To Ben), Ben, Where do I?...How do I?” (38). This is Willy as he leaves his home for the final time. He has a final hallucination with Ben and Biff. Then he realizes he is alone, but it is too late. The reality is finally realized yet Willy cannot handle it because he has avoided handling it for so long. The pile of unsolved problems is too much and Willy is destroyed. There are many troubling issues Willy faces throughout the play. His lack of success and work and his troubled family relationships hurt him. They destroy him literally. Rather then dealing with these issues he escapes into disillusionment, which proves costly to him. The constant flashbacks to his glory days and his dreams of being successful lead to his inability to settle his present problems. By the time that reality kicks in, it is too late for Willy to deal with it and instead he takes his life because his life is too far gone to fix. And even if it is possible, years of living back and forth in and out of reality have made him unable to know how to fix his life. The inability to accept the present has destroyed Willy Loman.
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