The Destruction of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

The Destruction of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

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The Destruction of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman


  In the book Death of A Salesman, author Arthur Miller shows how cruel life can be through the life of Willy Loman, the main character. His feelings of guilt, failure, and sadness result in his demise.  

Willy's sense of pride is a very big issue in his life; he doesn't like people to give him handouts, although he may need them. But the feeling of failure overrides him when he learns about the loss of his job. "But I got to be in 10-12 hours a day. Other men-I don't know-they do it easier. I don't know why-I can't stop myself I talk to much." (p.37) Willy being a hard working man that tries his best realizes times have changed. His youthfulness and life have begun to fade. A man his age working ten to twelve hours a day is very unlikely. "I don't want you to represent us. I've been meaning to tell you a long time now!" (p.83) When Willy first heard this from his boss, that is a man younger than him begins to cry. A man his age working in a company that long doesn't really deserve to be fired. It makes his life seem a waste, and makes him imagine himself as a failure. "I was fired and I am looking for a little good news to tell your mother, because the woman has waited and suffered." (p.107) Willy is clueless of what is to come of his family and feels he has let everyone down. He failed to support his wife along with his sons. His life was basically devoted to impressing others and the one job he had led him to failure.

In Willy Loman's life, guilt played a big role. He lived many years feeling remorseful of what led and followed after cheating on his wife. "Now look Biff, when you grow up you'll understand about these things. You mustn't overemphasize a thing like this." (p.120) When Biff first caught his father cheating on his mother he reacted in a very harsh, way leaving his father feeling guilty. Biff began to realize his whole life was a fake. "You fake! You phony little fake! You fake! Overcome, Biff turns quickly and weeping fully goes out with his suitcase. Willy is left on the floor on his knees"(p.

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121) Biff, Willy's main pride, left him. Biff never trusted him again. Willy's guilt of lying to his loving son stays in his mind-leaving Biff to hate his father. Whatever relationship they had before what shattered into millions of pieces. It killed Willy that his once loving son grew to hate him as much as he did. "Will you stop mending stockings? At least while I'm in the house. It gets me nervous please! (p.75) Seeing his wife Linda mending stockings leads him to a great deal of guilt. The woman with whom he was cheating with was constantly given gifts of stockings from Willy. It reminds him of how he should have given the new stockings to his loyal wife. The feeling of guilt and losing the trust of his son leaves him with great pain and the many attempts of suicide.

As the play ends, we begin so see more clearly towards Willy's flashbacks. His suicide attempts become stronger and the painfulness of his life turns to sadness. "I was looking for a fuse down in the cell and behind the fuse box-it happened to fall out-a length of a rubber pipe-just short." (p.59) Linda, suspicious of her husband wanting to kill himself, finds a hidden rubber pipe connected to the gas line of the water heater. Linda, scared, tried to take the pipe away every day but always found herself putting it back thinking she was betraying her husband. She began to confide in her sons with what she should do, but finds them thinking the opposite. "Pop I'm nothing! I'm nothing pop! Can't you understand that? There's no spite in it anymore. I'm just what I am that's all!" (p.133) Biff begins to find his father unbearable. He always relied on Biff to come home and surprise him with good news, but Biff tells Willy he can't do that any more because their lives are both shams. Biff begins to realize he and his father never were important and never will be. Biff cries to his father to make him understand. Biff's speech was the last meaningful thing that Willy, heard and he dies knowing his son did love him and never blamed him for his life. "Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." (p.138) For all of the feelings of guilt, sadness, and failure in Willy's life, at his requiem everyone praised Willy for his good doings, forgetting his bad doings. Charley, Willy's only best friend, explains how a salesman must dream to be successful. Willy may have had the wrong dreams but did what he was meant to do in life.

Willy's sad ending left him to remain a salesman. He never made it to the top as he planned or ever got his son to trust him. His death was basically based on the ways of the world and his wrongdoing. But what human being is perfect? Some get dealt good cards others may not. What Willy should have done was follow his heart and not his needs, and his life may not have ended as sadly as it did.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Downer, Alan S. American Drama and Its Critics. Chicago, University of Chicago Press [1965]. pp. 218-239.

Hayashi, Tetsumaro.  Arthur Miller Criticism.  Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1969.

Miller, Arthur.  Death of a Salesman.  New York: Viking, 1965.
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