Willy chooses to exaggerate his success in front of his family and even his boss in Act 2, but when he is contradicted “Now, Willy, you never averaged...” he still continues on with his façade thus further emphasizing his delusional nature. He teaches his children that they should be “liked and you will never want,” which implies that for Willy popularity is more important as it is this that will deem how prosperous one is in business as that man “is the man who gets ahead.” This contradicts the initial ideals of the American dream where you work hard in order to achieve success, and hence could be used by Miller to indicate how futile the concept was as well as how it lead to people conceiving inconceivable dreams - “He had the wrong dreams” as mentioned by Biff in the requiem.
Willy believes that wealth is the key to your happiness, and the extent of your wealth is exposed by the amount of materialistic items one has. Miller explains Willy’s thoughts in Timebends, “The publicity apparatus tells Willy that if he works hard like Edison, that if he perseveres like Goodrich, that, if he is “well-liked” like Dave Singleman, then he will rise like Charley and become rich and powerful.” Willy’s thought process is foolish, and his belief that failure cannot be tolerated in his family causes him to lie about his success. This is evident when Biff says “We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house! ” The American Dream is to blame for imprinting wealth is all you need to be happy, into Willy’s mind.
Many workers today go through a low time or a struggle and give up. Today’s workers do not necessarily commit suicide when they are in a low point but they do things such as quitting the job or relying on government assistance. Willy strives to achieve the American dream and he eventually realizes that he has failed and gives up on life. This dream is a belief in America and that all things are possible if you work hard enough (Criticism of ' the American Dream' in 'Death of a Salesman'). Arthur Miller uses this story to expose the problems with pursuit of such a dream: “What Miller attacks, then, is not the American Dream of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, but the dream as interpreted and pursued by those for whom ambition replaces human need and the trinkets of what Miller called the ‘new American Empire in the making’ are taken as tokens of true value” (Bigsby). “Death of a Salesman” creates a challenge to the American Dream and shows that an American should live a prosperous and plentiful life instead of get lost and die tragically (Criticism of ' the American Dream' in 'Death of a Salesman'). Gradually throughout the play, Willy gets farther and farther away from achieving his idea of the American Dream. His income slowly decreases to nothing: “as a salesman, Willy stages a performance for buyers, for his sons, for the father who deserted him, the brother he admired. Gradually, he loses his audience, first the buyers, then his son, then his boss” (Bigsby). His problem is that he completely surrenders to the American Dream and by the team he realizes his mistake, he has nothing to fall back on (Panesar). If Willy would have embraced his natural talent for manual labor and his family’s love for the countryside, the Lomans could have a totally different lifestyle (Panesar). Towards the end of the play, Willy became overwhelmed
Ben, Willy’s older brother, believes that his American dream was that he started out with little, and ended up being very successful. It is ironic, because Ben brags that he came out of the African jungle a rich man, so he did not necessarily achieve the American dream, since his wealth began in Africa. Although Ben is not alive anymore, he frequently appears in Willy’s dream and can be considered as a symbol of the success that Willy desires. Another character who struggles with trying to pursue the American Dream is Happy, Willy’s youngest son. Happy possesses many of the same traits as Willy and lives the lie of the American Dream. Happy shows many signs of delusion, even believing that he is in a higher position in his store than he really is. Another character, Biff, the oldest son, also struggles with the idea of the American Dream. Biff’s main struggle throughout the play is between pleasing his father or pleasing himself. Willy wants Biff to inherit his world of sales, but Biff finds himself happier outdoors and is a farmhand. At the end of the day, Biff realizes that his happiness is more important than being rich and achieving the American dream. He returns to the farm where he makes less than $35 a week and does manual labor. Biff can also be considered a relatable character because he redefined his version of the American dream.
Through the character of Biff Loman, Miller illustrates the survival of the American Dream. The dream is cultivated in Biff as seen in his personal happiness. Biff was becoming this person Willy wanted him to be; he was “well-liked” and a kleptomaniac because he wanted to make his father happy. He always went by what his father told him to do until when Biff walked into the affair between Willy and “The Woman.” This was Biff’s turning point; he realized that his father was a “phony liar” and didn’t want to be like him (1321). He was devastated from this event which led him to give up on going to summer school. From there, Biff left the family and began his independent life to work for “twenty or thirty different kinds of jobs.” He felt that all of them turned out the same until he began working on farms in Nebraska, North Dakota, Arizona, and Texas;
Willy foolishly pursues the wrong dream and constantly lives in an unreal world blinded from reality. Despite his dream Willy constantly attempts to live in an artificial world and claims “If old Wagner was alive I’d be in charge of New York by now” (Miller 14). As a result, Willy often ignores his troubles and denies any financial trouble when he says “business is bad, it’s murderous. But not for me of course” (Miller 51). Another false segment of Willy’s dream includes the success of his two sons Happy and Biff. Biff was a high school football star who never cared about academics and now that he needs a job says “screw the business world” (Miller 61). Ironically, Willy suggests that Biff go west an “be a carpenter, or a cowboy, enjoy yourself!”, an idea that perhaps Willy should have pursued. Constantly advising his boys of the importance of being well liked, Willy fails to stress academics as an important part of life (Miller 40). Furthermore, Willy dies an unexpected death that reveals important causes of the failure to achieve the American dream. At the funeral Linda cries “I made the last payment on the house today... and there’ll be nobody home” to say that she misses Willy but in essence his death freed the Lomans from debt and the hopes and expectations Willy placed on his family (Miller 139). Very few people attend
Family relationships, in many literary works, are often essential to the entire plot; not only is there hardship and agony, but confrontation and conflict that arise in the family. The pressures brought upon growing up a particular way, in addition to succeeding are all a reflection based off the parents themselves, and there standards. In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” the relationship between Willy and his sons, Biff and Happy Loman can be considered -- not “typical.” It is a relationship based on success and the persistence to lead a life, that in reality, cannot be lived. Willy and his relationship with his
The struggle for financial security and success has always been part society. I found this play is a little confusing sometimes. It gets confusing between Willy's imagination and his reality. Money and success seem like the most important things to Willy. Biff is conflicted with himself whether he should allow himself to love his father or hating him for cheating on his mother. Biff is further positioned in a confliction with his future and his goals in life, whether he should live life to please himself or his father. Willy is out chasing the American dream (Miller 72-75). Despite the fact that Willy was an adulterer, Linda stayed by his side as he lost his mind, Willy being delusional is part of his guilt, for being the cause of his son
Willy believes the amount of money someone makes is equivalent to someone’s success. This is exemplified when he parrots Ben’s success in Alaska to his children, “Why, boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. He laughs. And by God I was rich” (48). Willy repeats this as his motto throughout the play. He idolizes Ben for his achievement in Alaska, the reader is unable to discern if his success was actually as large as Willy claims it is. Willy doesn’t truly know who Ben is, but puts him on a pedestal because he was able to find wealth in Alaska. He values Ben not because of their relationship as brothers, but for his material success. Willy and Ben are juxtaposed as two different sides of the American Dream. Ben characterizes the American Dream of hard work and individualism leading to success. However, Willy has perverted this and interpreted it differently. Willy represents the new ideal of the American people, having a large sum of money and not having to work for it. He sees Ben’s success as further proof that he too should succeed.
Willy’s perseverance to direct Biff into success has resulted to Biff’s desperate acts to earn praise from his father. However, Biff’s dishonest acts of stealing are often justified by Willy through disregard and excuse, even expressing that the “Coach will probably congratulate [Biff] for [his] initiative”. Instead of correcting his mistakes, Willy continuously expresses his belief of Biff’s predetermined success as a result of being attractive and well-liked. These acts effectively exemplifies Biff’s adherence to self-deception as he imagines himself as an important figure in other people’s lives. It can be seen that his belief of being destined for success prevents him from allowing himself recognize the destruction it brings. As a result, Biff has allowed how Willy views him become how he perceives himself. This self-deception has not only affected the actions in his childhood but as well as his decisions when finding his role in the workplace. As stated above, Willy’s consistent beliefs of his son’s predestined success results to Biff’s immense confidence in himself. However, this confidence have provided him a false perception of himself as he struggle to keep a stable job and even faces imprisonment. It can be seen that Biff’s lack of self-perception and compliance to ideals of Willy has only allowed him to restrain and prevent him from recognizing the difference between illusion and reality resulting in the lack of his
Despite his son’s popularity in high school, Biff grows up to be a drifter and a ranch-hand. Willy’s own career falters as his sales ability flat-lines. When he tries to use “personality” to ask his boss for a raise, he gets fired instead. Willy’s “definition” of the American Dream is all wrong, due to the way his own sons turned out to be.
Success: Accomplishing Your Dream Completing the "American Dream" is a controversial issue. The American Dream can be defined as having a nice car, maybe two or three of them, having a beautiful, healthy family, making an impact on the world, or even just having extra spending money when the bills are paid. In the play "Death Of A Salesman," by Arthur Miller, the "American Dream" deals with prosperity, status, and being immortalized.
All Willy really wants is to be a part of his son’s lives and, Miller shows this by the example of when in the play Biff comes home to recollect himself, Willy seems to think this as a failure because he would rather see his eldest son be likely more successful rather than his youngest, Happy. Hereafter, Willy tries to take matter into his own hands, ‘I’ll get him a job selling, he could be big in no time’, he says to Linda (1215). Partially due to Willy’s consistency in Biff’s life conflicts start to erupt more partially to do with the fact being that they had different ideas of what the ‘American Dream” really is. With Biff believing that the most inspiring job to a man is working outdoors, his father disregarded by saying that working on the road selling was the greatest job a man could possibly have (1276).
Willy Loman's dream is an adaptation of the American Dream. Willy believes that the only things that are important in life are the successes that he achieved and the amount of friends that he made. This is easily illustrated when Willy says " It's who you know and the smile on your face! ... and that's the wonder, the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked!" (Movie). Success is an important part of the American dream, but Willy puts too much importance on the need to achieve success. He neglects the needs of his family and chooses to remain in the mindset that as long as he is well liked he will achieve success. Although he has lost his ability to sell, Willy continues to believe that as long as he works hard good things will happen to him and his family. Willy's wife Linda realizes this and conveys these thoughts to her sons when she says "He drives seven hundred miles, and when he gets there no one knows him anymore… what goes through a man's mind, driving seven hundred miles home without earning a cent?" (Movie). Willy has delusional ideas about the American Dream. Even in the end Willy still believes that the only thing Biff needs to be successful is some
The Importance of Biff's Role in "Death of a Salesman" The play "Death of a Salesman", by Arthur Miller, follows the life of Willy Loman, a self-deluded salesman who lives in utter denial, always seeking the "American Dream," and constantly falling grossly short of his mark. The member's of his immediate family, Linda, his wife, and his two sons, Biff and Happy, support his role. Of these supportive figures, Biff's character holds the most importance, as Biff lies at the center of Willy's internal conflicts and dreams , and Biff is the only one in the play who seems to achieve any growth. Biff's role is essential to the play because he generates the focus of Willy's conflict for the larger part, his own