Mr. Stephan P. Adamian
November 18, 2015
Success in Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman’s Legacy
At the heart of the capitalism system lies the sales world and, therefore, the salesmen. Their life and their job is the subject chosen by Arthur Miller as the central theme for the play “Death of a Salesman.” Miller demonstrates the family life behind the sales world, the quest of the hero to achieve success, and the psychological state of mind of a seller in decline. The purpose of this essay is to analyze Willy Loman’s distorted vision of success along with the heritage he wants to bequeath to his sons, both tangible and intangible.
In order to understand what Willy Loman wants to give to his sons, one must look at what Willy himself thinks he has achieved. In other words, what is his own vision of success. First, Willy put a lot of emphasis on having a good job. However, he seems to forget the aspect of having a job that is appropriate to him. He only takes into account the image gave over by his job’s title and wages. He is absolutely convinced that his success will be achieved in the sales world, while it is clear that this world does not correspond to his personality:
“CHARLEY: Yeah. He was a happy man with a batch of cement.
LINDA: He was so wonderful with his hands.
BIFF: He had the wrong dreams.” (Miller, p. 138)
In fact, he is not so different from Biff: both like to work with their hands. The key difference is that Biff is more aware of it than Willy is. Biff realizes that he is not made to work in an office 50 weeks a year to get 2 weeks of vacation; he would prefer to work outside. Also, Willy believes that success is achieved by being well-liked: “Be liked and you will never want” (Mil...
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...is falling lower and lower in his problems. When he gets fired, its was the absolute bottom for him. In a final attempt to save his image toward his sons, he commits suicide so they may see how many people will be at his funeral; he perceives it as a testimony of one’s success. Unfortunately, there was no one from his job… This is unfortunately a revelation to Linda, Biff, and Happy that he was not finally such a success…
To conclude, Willy’s vision of success is far off the mark. He tried all his life to reach something while he did not even know about what he was pursuing. In the end, his great devotion to his family and his strong will to bequeath them a strong heritage led him to commit a suicide. To a certain extend, Willy’s story presents the down side of an economic system which put a lot of emphasis on production and clearly not enough on the population.
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