The Internal and External Conflicts of Willy Loman

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Individuals explore their responses to conditions of internal and external conflicts throughout literature. Going in depth to a character allows the reader to better understand that character’s internal and external conflicts. Arthur Miller uses this technique in several of his plays, including Death of a Salesman. Miller portrays the character of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman through his internal and external conflicts.
The internal conflict begins with Willy’s expectations for his sons and The Woman. Willy struggles throughout the play with having extremely high expectations for his sons, Happy and Biff. Happy and Willy get along well because they are most alike of the two sons. Happy has the same materialistic mindset as Willy. Miller shows this when Happy and Biff discuss having the apartment for themselves. Happy tells Biff:
I bet he’d back you. ‘Cause he thought highly of you, I mean, they all do. You’re well liked, Biff. That’s why I say to come back here and we both have the apartment. And I’m tellin’ you, Biff, any babe you want… (Miller 29)
Willy and Happy are very similar people. However Biff does not agree with the way Willy and Happy handle situations, which results in several conflicts between Biff and Willy throughout much of the play. Willy describes Biff as being lost saying, “Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such – personal attractiveness gets lost,” (Miller 16). Even though Willy believes Biff is the lost one, in reality, Willy is lost throughout most of the play (Eisinger 2). Willy does not really know himself. Willy always puts on a show for others and does not be his true self, which portrays the feeling of being lost within himself.
Miller also ...

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..., ensuing his external conflict.
Like countless characters in a play, Willy struggles to find who he is. Willy’s expectations for his sons and The Woman become too high for him to handle. Under the pressure to succeed in business, the appearance of things is always more important than the reality, including Willy’s death. The internal and external conflicts aid in developing the character Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Works Cited

Eisinger, Chester E. "Critical Readings: Focus on Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman: The Wrong Dreams." Critical Insights: Death of a Salesman (2010): 93-105.
Kellman, Steven. Magill's Survey of American Literature: Volume 4. Pasadena: Salem Press, Inc., 2007.
Miller, Arthur. The Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books, 1975.
Trudeau, Lawrence. Drama Criticism Volume 1. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1991.

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