Death of a Salesman: Willy's Struggle

“The relationship between an individual and his or her society is responsible of the sacrifices he or she makes. ” This statement questions the role society plays in the actions and sacrifices of the individual. Playwright Arthur Miller, uses Loman to demonstrate that the troubled common man holds the ability to become a tragic hero. Willy holds the strong American Dream of becoming successful and having a leisurely lifestyle yet he struggles through his entire life trying to fulfill that dream.

His stubborn pride prevents him from admitting that he has failed and rather then facing his reality and mistakes, he commits suicide and escapes them eternally. Linda, although supportive to the very end, and Biff who only supported him in the end, were disappointed in his actions because they knew he was better then what he made himself to be. The pressure of heaving wealth in order to achieve happiness is a clear and present bother to Willy. He can hardly find work, and lies to Linda about his income. I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston” (pg 218). After Linda takes the time to calculate, he comes clean and admits he didn’t do so well. He later expresses that he’s not “noticed”(pg 219), Linda soothes him and says he is doing a wonderful job, that seventy to one hundred dollars is enough and he can do better in a different area. With Linda adding acceptance to his lies and his low income, Willy sees it as less of a problem then the popularity and respect he yearns for.

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He thinks that without respect, he cannot gain financially because the lack of respect equals less business opportunity. Linda knows that Willy is failing in work and falling behind in bills, though she still supports him. Her disappointment in his failure and insecurity is rarely, if ever shown only to her children, and even then she is still trying to protect Willy’s wellbeing. The fear of abandonment keeps Willy’s mind on a never-ending cycle of regret. He fears facing being abandoned by his family much like he was by his father and brother Ben.

Thoughts of his brother are constantly triggering flashbacks for Willy, he imagines Ben being very Successful and he looks up to him immensely. The only example that Willy has had of providing and family is his brother Ben, who is always coming and going. Between his trip in and out of Willy’s mind and Alaska, Africa and so on the only thing Willy is familiar with is leaving. “No, Ben! Please tell about dad … all I remember is a man with a big beard”(pg 227); “”William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich! ”(pg 229).

Although both quotes different they explain what will was raised knowing—he really knew nothing of his father, and what Ben did teach him was non-sense about money and ‘business’ trips. His only example of nurturing is the allusions his mind allows him to have. “I’ve got to get some seeds. I’ve got to get some seeds, right away. Nothing’s planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground”(pg 269). When Willy admits that there is nothing in the ground he is admitting to his failure with his boys. He has planted no worth ‘seeds’ in their head that they could use and remember for when they go on to have a family.

He has unintentionally abandoned his sons, leaving them with no memory of what a father is, but only what a father shouldn’t be. Although Willy has failed with a father biff loves him “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you! ”(pg 275). Willy and biff have always had a bad relationship because of Willy’s disappointment in biffs actions, and on page 274, Biff finally stops his actions from taking the best of him and admit that he has come to terms with the fact that hell never be better then he is, and Willy should start to see the same.

Because of Willy’s inability to be accepting of himself, he makes it hard for others to accept him as well. The people that love him most and surround him are faced with the challenge of helping him get better or hurting him. And unfortunately for the Loman family they can never find peace for Willy. He will always be the man with the broken dreams, the fear of abandonment, and the need to be accepted.

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