Male Expectations

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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’s oldest son Biff is the most affected by his father’s failures. Biff is more affected by his father’s failure to his mother than his father’s financial failures. Biff’s whole life is ruined when he finds out that his father is cheating on his mother after all she has done for him. When Biff realizes that he has been idolizing a failure he is devestated. Biffs life begins to tumble downhill uncontrollably. Biff is so affected by is father’s wrongdoings that is creates never-ending animosity between Willy and Biff. Biff feels that the reason him and his father are always fighting is because “he’s a fake and he doesn’t like anybody around who knows!” (Miller 1221)
Happy, Willy’s younger son, is also greatly affected by Willy’s antics. Happy is affected differently than Biff because Happy never realizes that his father is a failure. Happy is always competing for his father’s attention but is never able to steal the spotlight away from Biff. Throughout the play Happy defends his father and never admits to himself that his father is the main reason for his and his brother’s failures in life.
A downfall of the Loman boys is their father’s ideas of how to be successful in life. Willy builds up his sons so much that they end up failing. Willy fills his sons with hot air because he himself is the failure and cannot imagine his sons being the same way. Because of everything his father has instilled in him, Biff is so sure that being popular and well liked is the key to success. This belief leads to him flunking out of school and not making anything of his life. Willy has convinced his children that the most important thing in life...

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...s own life because of the ideas Willy had instilled in him his entire life. Willy’s failure not only affects him but also his family because now they are left without a father and a husband. The belief Biff would be unable to succeed without his father’s life insurance money is enough to drive Willy to committ suicide. Willy believed that in death he would be giving Biff twenty thousand dollars to help him become a success. Male expectations put too much pressure on men to be the most successful. If a man does not achieve “the ultimate goal” he is made to feel inferior and like a failure. We see that in Death of a Salesman when a man is unable to achieve ultimate success it can destroy one’s life and can drive a person to insanity and suicide.

Works Cited
Gill, M.S. “Boning Up.” Rolling Stone; 3/19/92 Issue 626, p62.
Miller, Arthur. Literature an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.
Sander, Fred M. “Psychoanalysis, Drama, and the Family: The Ever-Widening Scope.” Annual of Psychoanalysis; 2001, Vol. 29, p279.
Siegel, Lee. “Cultural Misconceptions.” New Republic; 08/02/99, Vol. 221 Issue 5, p18.
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