“I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!” (Miller, Act 2). The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a play that centers around a man who does everything in his will and power to make his family proud and happy of him, or so it seems. The play is based on the life of WIlly Loman,a seemingly successful salesman who constantly travels to the east coast to make sales to bigshot figures. He was the sole breadwinner of his family, and still is now that his elder sons, Happy and Biff, came back to live with him and his wife Linda. Willy used to work for a company as a traveling salesman, but he got laid off mid-play. Willy seems to be a person who thinks that everything goes exactly how he wants, including lying to his associates and family. The play teaches a good amount of life lessons and it shows just how empty some people are, and hurt others by doing what they believe is the right thing to do. This seems to occur quite too often in our society, and by having more people realize issues like this, people can stop. The play should be taught to all Maine South Juniors because it shows how a person can have a life that really is empty and without much purpose even while trying to achieve his version of the American Dream, hurt the ones he loves unknowingly, and how a person has to tell stories and lie all the time to make themselves feel good.
Willy Loman has a set vision of an American Dream in his mind that really isn’t a dream at all. It’s a false reality that he has a vision of in his mind. He thinks that everything that happens to him and his family is great, and that he is the role model American. He believes that being a salesman is a highly coveted job. When Willy comes home in the beginning of the play, he is surprised to hear from Linda that his eldest, Biff, can’t find his direction in life.
“Willy: Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such— personal attractiveness, gets lost. And such a hard worker. There’s one thing about Biff— he’s not lazy
Willy: [with pity and resolve]: I’ll see to him in the morning; I’ll have a nice talk with him. I’ll get him a job selling. He could be big in no time” (Miller, Act 1). Willy automatically
responds that that’s preposterous, as Biff lives in the “greatest country in the world”. Willy also believes that Biff will want to be a salesman as he indicates that he will get Biff a job
selling. Willy thinks that his life is the American dream, and that everyone wants to be living it. He’s wrong, as Biff does not want to follow in his Father’s footsteps. Willy’s vision of an American dream is hideous compared to that of his children and his wife.
Loman is a character who thinks that he is doing best for his family. He believes that he is living the great life, making great money, and that he raised two perfect children who respect him for what he has done for his family. However, he is dead wrong. His two sons, Biff and Happy, do not appreciate Willy’s attitude towards his wife and their mother, Linda. Willy seems to be somewhat abusive, as he yells at Linda multiple times for saying something related to the matter being discussed. It’s as if he doesn’t want her to voice her thoughts. The two of them attempt to defend her, but she quiets them down, siding with her husband. Another shown example of when Willy yells at Linda was when she was knitting stockings in the living room. She was doing absolutely nothing wrong, but Willy scolds her because he doesn’t want her to be mending them.
“Willy: [noticing her mending] What’s that?
Linda: Just mending my stockings. They’re so expensive!
Willy: [angrily, taking them from her]: I won’t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out!
[Linda puts the stockings in her pocket]” (Miller, Act 1). This also shows how Linda was trying to save them some money because she knew that they were behind on some bills and Willy was struggling financially, however he shuts her down as if nothing would be wrong. This could give off the vibe that Willy wants her to think that they do have the money to purchse new stockings, and Linda doesn’t have to knit them anymore. Nonetheless, this does not give Willy the right to verbally abuse his wife in such a manner. However, most of the pain Willy inflicts upon Linda is unintentional. For example, when Linda finds the rubber hose underneath the gas water heater, she knew that Willy hid it there. His intent with the hose; suicide. This devastated Linda, as she knew that it wasn’t the first time Willy tried to commit suicide. He attempted to commit suicide a few times before, both trying to make it appear as a car accident. Willy finally pulls the final string when he crashes the car nearing the end of the play. This crash was fatal unfortunately, and it left Linda a widow. This shows how Willy didn’t know he was hurting his own family, even though he thought he was doing the right thing. He killed himself in order for his family to receive his insurance money, and nothing else.
Willy Loman is a character that doesn’t know how to face life and the truth head on, but has to tell inaccurate statements and false stories in order for himself to feel good. He had a supposedly successful track record in sales, but as was found out later on, he seemed to have lied about a good amount of his success and fame. For example, when he was talking to Linda in Act 1, he told her that he is very well liked in Hartford, however people seem to dislike him and laugh at him. So he basically said that people like him, but ignore him at the same time.
“Willy: Oh, I’ll knock ‘em dead next week. I’ll go to Hartford. I’m very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don’t seem to like me.
Linda: Oh, don’t be foolish.
Willy: I know it when I walk in. They seem to laugh at me.
Linda: Why? Why would they laugh at you? Don’t talk that way, Willy.
Willy: I don’t know the reason for it, but they just pass me by. I’m not noticed”.(Miller, Act 1)
This goes to show that Willy mixes up his stories, and tells the lie first, followed by the truth. It proves that Willy is dishonest and cannot face the truth that he is not a well liked salesman and person. This goes on for most of the play; Willy praises about how loved and accepted he is everywhere, to the point where the reader can see he is over exaggerating and falsifying it. Willy is found to be lying to his boss, Ben, after he asks and basically demands to become a floor salesman, but Ben is hesitant and tells Willy that he’s going to have to take a break.“Willy: [turning to Ben]: Business is bad, it’s murderous. But not for me, of course”. (Miller, Act 1) Willy immediately begins talking about how much he loves being a traveling salesman and how well he’s been doing, even though he constantly complains that he has no money to pay bills and complains that he’s done traveling because it’s getting harder and harder out there for him. These two quotes from the book signify that Willy keeps on telling false stories and lies to make himself feel accomplished and let others around him believe that he is doing well and loves what he’s doing.
Arthur Miller incorporated more than a few great ideas in The Death of a Salesman, a few of them showing how a person can have a life that really is empty and without much purpose even while trying to achieve his version of the American Dream, hurt the ones he loves unknowingly, and how a person has to tell stories and lie all the time to make themselves feel good. Miller wrote a great play that teaches these, and more ideals to all of its’ readers. The play should be taught to every Junior in Maine South, mainly because each student who reads the play will learn that there are many ways you can think you’re doing something right, although your actions are negatively impacting one or multiple people. It teaches students how not to live their lives if they truly want to be somebody who not only has a positive effect on themselves, but on the lives of others as well.