Willy Loman's Distorted Values in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

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Willy Loman's Distorted Values in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Willy Loman, the central character in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, is a man whose fall from the top of the capitalistic totem pole results in a resounding crash, both literally and metaphorically. As a man immersed in the memories of the past and controlled by his fears of the future, Willy Loman views himself as a victim of bad luck, bearing little blame for his interminable pitfalls. However, it was not an ill-fated destiny that drove Willy to devastate his own life as well as the lives of those he loved; it was his distorted set of values. If Willy Loman had valued acceptance over popularity, individuality over conformity and devotion over materialism, he would have considered himself rich in his later years, feeling grateful to have a wife and two sons that loved him; and that would have been enough. Yet because he was unable to appreciate the important things in life, he ultimately opted for death instead, subsequently stealing the opportunity for true happiness away from those who had managed to find their own versions of peace prior to his selfish act. What is truly ironic here is that the act of suicide is Willy’s warped way of showing Biff that he loves him, yet he never once comprehends the notion that his acceptance and understanding would have benefited his son a thousand times more than any insurance policy ever could. Even if the Loman family had succeeded in acquiring the insurance money, it would not have eased their grief. Thus Willy’s distorted perceptions of reality and what truly mattered to his family blinded him to the things that could have made him and those he loved exceedingly happy. Spouting off rhetoric such as... ... middle of paper ... ...s not a breath of fresh air…The grass don’t grow . . . you can’t raise a carrot in the back yard.” (p. 17), he is basically demonstrating how barren and unfruitful he feels his own life has become. Yet what he fails to realize is that there is beauty all around us if we just now where to look and how to view it. Had Willy been able to grasp what his son Biff was trying to tell him about the true nature of happiness; if he had believed his son that his actions were not perpetrated out of spite, but out of the longing for a sense of self that Willy had never given him, perhaps Willy Loman would not have sold himself or his family short. Perhaps instead, he would had the strength of character to commendably walk away from the biggest sales gimmick of all time; The American Dream. WORKS CITED Arthur Miller, Death of A Salesman, edition: October 6, 1998, Penguin USA

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