Miller’s story ”Death of a Salesman” is more than a mere story of the death of a man. The story delves into the dreams and aspirations of a salesman and follows his decline as they fail to come true. Willy Lowman is a former successful salesman who has seen his life change. Willy remembers the days when he could sell enough to provide for his family, buy luxury items, and even keep a mistress. He dreamed of his sons’ success and particularly his son Biff’s entrance into the University of Virginia. Willy traveled everywhere selling his wares and living life as he viewed it should be. To Willy, the most important thing was to be “well liked” by everyone. Unfortunately Willy lived to see the world around him change and pass him by.
As Willy grew older he lost his ability to travel to any place and sell anything. Willy began to see the loss of his beloved lifestyle and the onset of bills and debt just to survive. Slowly this change from the ideal to the real took its toll on Willy. This toll showed itself in Willy’s struggle to remain in his dreams and to maintain hope for things that were never to be. Willy’s increasing difficulty in dealing with machines, his irrational focus on a garden, which will never grow, and his constant Hallucinations all serve to illustrate Willy’s steady desperation to fulfill his dreams and his refusal to deal with reality.
One of Willy’s greatest struggles in the play is his struggle with his car. . As a traveling sales man, Willy spends much time driving great distances in his car. After arriving home early from a highly unsuccessful sales trip, Willy berates his car and blames it for his inability to bring home enough money to pay outstanding bills. Willy refuses to pay a mechanic bill for fixing the carburetor on his car going so far as to say “that goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car” (Miller 1470).
Prior Walter: Tragic Hero - Willy Loman: Tragic Fool Self-realization is the defining conclusion for designating a character either a tragic hero or merely a victim of tragedy. Very much alike, both characters, Willy Loman and Prior Walter, face tragedy as their respective plays progress, and each die in the end. Although both possess the stereotypical basis of a tragic hero, Willy lacks full ...
Willy rationalizes to himself that if the car had only been reliable, his trip would have been much more successful and he would have been better liked. This rationale holds no water considering that the few weeks Willy had spent away proved to be unsuccessful. This deterioration of Willy’s ideal life bothers him so much that he is forced to lie to himself in order to cope with it. Willy sees his abilities as a salesman falling short in the modern age and he knows that he cannot keep up any longer. This thought is so contrary to his visions of a well-liked and successful salesman that he must blame a perfectly reliable car for his crumbling dream. As the events of the story progress, he becomes less successful at lying to even himself and this is where his desperation sets in.
Willy begins to grasp the truth that his life has reached its peak and many of his dreams will never be met. Willy’s grand aspirations of his sons making something big of themselves and Biff going to University of Virginia have long been cast aside. Happy, still living at home, is just another faceless worker in a bustling company. Biff, Willy’s greatest disappointment, cannot hold a job for more than a few weeks. All of Willy’s visions of success and achievement have given Biff such an inflated sense of self that he cannot stand to take orders and self-destructs at every job. Willy can no longer ignore these facts and feels the emptiness inside. He mumbles to himself that “nothing’s planted, I don’t have a thing in the ground” (Miller 1513).
His late night planting of a garden is symbolic of this disparity. While it is obvious to everyone that the city has grown up all around the yard and no sunlight hits it now, Willy feels the need to “get something in the ground.” This is just another example of Willy trying to grasp at a fleeting dream and hold on to what he can no longer have because the world has grown up and passed him by. The growing city represents the changing world of sales and how Willy’s traditional traveling techniques are no longer profitable. Willy cannot compete with the younger salesmen and he cannot fit into the newer world. Willy finds a way to fit himself into a world he is comfortable in and he begins to live in his dreams and hold on to them tighter than ever before. With memories of his past success or opportunities, Willy begins to hallucinate and daydream of those things he finds comforting.
Biff is one of the main characters in the play "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller. Biff is Willy's and Linda's son. He was the star of the football team and had scholarships to 3 college's, but he flunked math and couldn't graduate, so he tried to work at many different jobs, and failed at each. Finally, he decided to head out west, and work on farms. Biff came back home this spring, because ...
Willy spent his entire existence trying to be well liked by all and trying to be the best salesman. He dreamed that his sons, especially Biff, would be something big and important some day. As the reality set in that Willy could not maintain his sales stature and that his boys were actually ending up to be just two more faces in the crowd, Willy suffered from the worst thing anyone can suffer from, a dying spirit. As Willy saw his dreams and his aspirations fall asunder he began to grasp more desperately at futile measures to keep his dreams alive. Willy’s final effort in futility was his life insurance policy. Willy’s rationale in his hallucinations was that Biff could still make it big if he only had the financial backing. Willy’s dreams are dying around him; Biff explains this to Willy in no uncertain terms. Willy cannot accept this because all he has left are his dreams. At his funeral, a family friend Charley explains Willy’s situation. “Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand. Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back – that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory” (Miller 1521).
Willy was, at the core, a salesman. He did not lead a life of concrete facts or of black and white issues; he lived a life of dreams and goals. He just happened to live in the last moments of his era. Willy was part of a dying breed and the passing of his era meant the passing of his dreams. Being a dreamer at heart, Willy could never just let go and this caused his internal struggle. Willy died just as he lived, protecting his dreams. Charley put it best when he said, “Nobody dast blame this man.”
Although Dexter’s dream parallels to that of the American Dream, Fitzgerald presents this idea of idealism in a negative sense, saying that in reality achieving this dream is impossible. The American Dream can be defined simply as the American ideal of living a happy and successful life. However each person has their own idealistic perception of this dream. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ...