Illusion and Reality in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay

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Illusion and Reality in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy is depicted as living in his own world. The play centers around the end of Willy’s life, when the real world comes crashing through, ruining the false reality he had created for himself and his family. Throughout the play, Willy Loman uses the concept of being well liked to build a false image of reality, as shown through his teachings to his son, what he considers successful, and his reasoning for committing suicide.

Willy teaches Biff the concept of being well-liked, reinforcing his own belief in the ideology and furthering his false sense of reality. "Willy Loman subscribes to this view and has taught his sons to believe
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Biff’s failure comes from the fact that once high school is over, nothing happens. Biff does not go on to be a great businessman or anything like that. Instead he goes from job to job, not making his fortune like Willy thought he would. This poked a hole in the world that Willy had presented to Biff and Happy.

Willy even convinced himself that being well liked was the key to a successful life, and chose to believe that he was well liked. "Like the legendary Dave Singleman, he wants to be well liked" (Dukore 21). "Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer" (Miller 33). Even when he doubts his charisma, Linda is right there to tell him otherwise. "Willy Loman never acknowledges or learns the error of his way. To the very end he is a devout believer in the ideology that destroys him. He believes that life’s problems are all solved by making oneself well liked and by a little cash. His wife knows only that he is a good man and that she must continue to love him" (Hurrell 66).

The concept of being well liked is one of the reasons for Willy’s death. He thinks that Biff would be able to use Willy’s life insurance money for starting him out on the right foot at last. "Thus Willy lived by his dreams…