Two Sides of the Same Coin Everyone has their own interpretation of the American Dream. In his play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller juxtaposes the efforts that his characters have gone through to achieve their respective dreams, including, for example, the titular character Willy Loman’s strenuous pursuit of a misguided dream against his brother Ben Loman’s lucky break. First, Ben Loman is the successful Dreamer, having achieved his fortune via the atypical rags-to-riches style. Chasing his ambitions, however, came with some serious repercussions in the form of his younger brother Willy’s psyche. When Willy was still a toddler, Ben left him to go searching for their father in Alaska, psychologically scarring Willy to fear abandonment
This turns sour however, after Biff discovers the father he idolizes was not all he had thought him to be. Afterward, familial dynamics are never the same, as Willy continues to hope that Biff will succeed, ignorant- perhaps purposely so- that his son is failing out of spite, knowing that all his father’s hopes are resting on his shoulders. Willy’s relationships with his two sons are tentative at best, but Happy and Biff are partly to blame for this downhill spiral- as their relationship is just as complex. In the play, “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman remembers scenes from years previous, particularly idyllic times when his two sons were still young and full of promise. Willy’s memories focus on Biff: Biff’s chances at success, Biff’s talents, Biff’s popularity.
When his son, Biff, for example, is trying to explain why he cannot become successful, Willy believes that Biff is just trying to spite him. Unfortunately, Willy never realizes that his values are flawed. As Biff points out at the end of the play, "he had the wrong dreams." In many ways Biff is similar to his father. In the beginning of the play we see that Biff shares many of the same ideas as Willy.
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman shows us how one man's blind faith in a misconception of the American Dream becomes an obsession of accomplishment that destroys his life and nearly that of his family. Miller's main character Willy Loman somehow comes to believe that success always comes to those who are well liked and good looking. His downfall is that he does not equate success with hard work and perseverance. This faulty thinking keeps him from achieving his goals of wealth and status. His boys Biff and Happy are taught the same faulty values and are destined to fail as well.
Winnie Zhong 2/13/2014 English 10 Dr. Lupardo Death of a Salesman Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller in 1949, is a play attempts to identify and validate the “tragic flaw” of a common man. It is a tragedy describing the consequences arose between a family’s American dream and the reality of their lives. Willy Loman, the main character, is bought into an extreme obsession of the American Dream or the success in becoming a “well liked” salesman. However, after having done everything in order to achieve and live the dream, Willy Loman fails to receive the success promised by it. Throughout the play, the most important reason causing Willy’s failure in achieving his goal seems to be his own inability to recognize the unpleasant reality while continually living in a slanted fantasy that his mind has created.
In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, the conflicts that formulate between Biff and Willy Loman build up to the death of Willy. Biff’s delusional perception of being liked in the world leads to a successful life which was an idea brought onto him by his father, Biff’s discovery of his father's affair, and Biff’s lack of business success all accumulate to the heavy conflicting relationship between Biff and his father, Willy. These contribute immensely to the idea that personal dreams and desire to reach success in life can negatively impact life with personal relationships, which causes people to lose sight of what is important. This ultimately leads to the Willy committing suicide from the build up of problems with his son. During the
The Effects of Male Expectations Male expectations are ever present in our world creating an adverse effect on men making them feel inferior if they are unable to succeed financially. Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman explicitly shows just how harmful these expectations can be to a person and their families. The main character in the play Death of a Salesman Willy Loman is greatly affected by these male expectations. The man is expected to not only support his family but must also be able to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Willy’s inability to succeed financially as expected from society in turn affects his two sons Biff and Happy and his loving wife Linda.
Willy Loman becomes incredibly involved in work-related matters, instead of the happiness surrounding his family life. He discourages Biff to take his own path, and instead, nearly forces him to become a salesman, in hopes that Biff will be more successful than he turned out to be. Willy tells Biff that his dreams will “cut down (his) life…!” Willy cannot simply hope for Biff and Happy to attain satisfaction in life, which is the element that Willy misses. He is so consumed by the idea of success that he had not once stopped to reflect on being a good father or loving his wife. Having an affair was one of his main problems-he could not put enough love into his family, so he put it anywhere else he could.
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 looks at his father and brother Ben as if they are pillars of heroism, when in fact they are the complete opposite of that. Willy is looking for a hero that can tell him the steps to achieving greatness and lead him to become a hero to his family. He gains the misconception that by becoming a salesman like his father and brother he will gain the title of Hero. As William Hawkins, a drama critic that wrote for The New York World Telegram and Sun, puts it in his reviews of the play titled, Death of a Salesman Powerful Tragedy. “This original deception dooms him to a life of touring and a hobby of prideful rationalization, until at the age of sixty he is so far along his tangent that his efforts not to admit resultant mediocrity are fatal.” (Hawkins 202).