Willie Lowman is a character with whom most anyone can identify. He has two sides to his life: on one side, he creates an image of being successful, well-liked, and bold.
On the other side, he feels old, unsuccessful, defeated, and disliked. He maintains the image of success to comfort his wife and friends. This veil of success becomes thinner and thinner until he lingers between fantasy and reality of the cruel world, often changing back and forth in the course of a conversation. The core of Willie’s slow, painful demise into nothingness is based upon his beliefs. Willie thinks that success is not what you know, but who you know and how well you are liked. These beliefs he instills in his sons, who find themselves adrift and meaningless, just like their father.
In addition, Willie sees the world changing, and his inability to change with it will seal his fate. He misses the open land and the smell of flowers in the summer. The pollution and high-rise apartments add to Willie’s dismal existence. An example of Willie’s shift from fantasy to reality is during his conversation with his wife about the Chevy. He thinks the car is fantastic, the best ever built. Later, he and his wife discuss some bills that were paid, and when told about the bill to get the Chevy’s carburetor fixed, he says that they ought to prohibit the manufacture of the car.
Willie Lowman is finding himself less and less capable. He dreams of making it big and has visions of Uncle Ben who gives him advice on how to get rich, but never the kind of advice Willie wants to hear. Willie is concerned about his image. He is a great showman who can brag and flaunt, and witness to the hard truth of his failure, he continues to weave fairy tales and live in fantasy. Willie wants his sons to be better off and more successful than him, but he has already corrupted them, and they too claim achievements well beyond reality.
Biff comes to the reality of his position in life in the opening of the play. He knows he is not cut out for the business world. Biff prefers to move back to Texas and work on a farm. Although he realizes working on the farm won’t make him successful, he knows that it’s his calling in life. Happy, who is fairly stable and comfortable in his work, prefers to continue with the charade and the deception as long as it makes life easier for him. Although his sons will not be successful, I think Willy Loman did the best he could.
Willie is not to blame for his sons’ disappointments, although he has delayed their success by giving them false ideas about success. The family situation is that of a standard dysfunctional family. The mother is upset by her sons because they have no respect for Willie and show no concern for his decline. Willie loves his wife but often mistreats her, cuts her off in mid-conversation, and belittles her.
Biff begins to hate his father because of the constant pressure to succeed, as well as his father’s adultery and abuse of his mother. However, Biff still cares very deeply for his father deep down inside. Willie’s favorite son is Biff; however, Biff is also a continual source of disappointment for his father because of his inability to assert himself in the business world. Happy is most like his father in the way that he much prefers fantasy over reality. Happy is willing to continue pretending everything is all right as long as it makes life easier. The conflict is Willie versus nature.
Nature is the environment, and Willie is unable to change and conform to its dynamic and changing nature. The characters in this play are easily understood because of their similarity to most people who find themselves washed up in this game called life. People watching the play can easily identify with these characters who represent the average working-class family. Nobody wins in the end because it’s real life.
The father killed himself, hoping that the insurance money would send his family on their way to success. In actuality, the insurance money from his death will not heal any wounds or right any wrongs. Bibliography: