Like real people, fictional characters have beliefs and values that influence what they say and do. In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Willy Loman’s determination to live up to his “American Dream” and to seek material possessions in a capitalist society only takes his life. ?? The “American Dream” is the idea that any man or woman can make his or her own fortune, despite his or her past. Willy is trying to achieve success through this thought. He dreams of making personal achievement, enjoying popular fame, and getting great wealth through his hard work.
He has great expectations of life and any failure in achievement leads to keen disappointment. His life is too much devoted to the pursuit of wealth power and social position. He once said, ‘the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. ‘ It is clear that he values superficial attractiveness, popularity and likeability more than anything. When Willy realises that Biff is unsuccessful in fulfilling his expectations, he cannot accept that Biff is not what he dreams of.
He cannot understand why is Biff, a popular football player, is unable to succeed. He thinks that ‘In the greatest country in the world a young man with such – personal attractiveness, gets lost’. He thinks that it is just Biff who does not recognize his limitations. But then he has never noticed that hard work and education are more important than social popularity and physical attractiveness. His beliefs are incompatible with the modern business world. His wholeheartedly faith in the American Dream makes him even harder to face the truth.
Willy has been defeated and disillusioned by the American Dream and this leads to his downfall. In addition, Willy has a false view of life. He values legacy and has high hopes in Biff in fulfilling his dream for him. Passing on a legacy would probably be the only meaning of life to Willy. When he finds himself unable to leave Biff an intangible legacy, meaning probably history, and the insurance money being the one and only tangible legacy he can afford, he chose to kill himself.
The fact that his father and brother left him with nothing makes him believe that he has a great responsibility in leaving his sons a legacy. Willy never fully comes to terms with reality, he lives in his dreams, whether they be self-delusions (his achievements at work), or his past coming back to haunt him (his ‘flashbacks’). It also becomes obvious that the pride he has is for nothing, because he expects the wrong things. He ends up, according to his own values, a failure. It is tragic in itself that Willy feels ‘success’ dictates the worth of a person’s life.
His complete acceptance of the ‘American Dream’ and capitalist ideology ultimately leads to his downfall. His suicide supports the beliefs to which he has lived and died by. He commits suicide so that his family can claim the insurance; both to pay off the mortgage on the house, and to give them, what he would consider, a better start in life, especially for Biff. Although Willy is never able to attain his ideals, and his life is a massive self-deception, he still retains his hopes.
Even as he contemplates suicide he is still hopeful that his insurance money will sort out his family’s financial problems. It is definitely a tragic turn of events that Willy gives his life for the very system that failed him. To conclude, Willy’s ignorance of realizing that fact that a professional salesman has a life built upon the foundation stone of attitude, knowledge, integrity and industry but not only physical attractiveness, popularity and likeability has led to his downfall.
Moreover, it is his twisted view of life, his pride, his unawareness of his desires and his inability to see past the materialistic side of his American dream that leads him to his destructive action. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Languages section.