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

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

In Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, a major theme and source of conflict is the Loman family’s inability to distinguish between reality and illusion. This is particularly evident in the father, Willy Loman. Willy has created a fantasy world of himself and his family. In this world, he and his sons are men of greatness that “have what it takes” to make it in the business environment. In reality, none of them can achieve this greatness until they confront and deal with this illusion.

Willy is convinced that being well liked is the key to success, exclaiming “Be liked and you will never want...” (Klotz, A 1998). It is unclear whether Willy’s
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All the while telling him that stealing will get him no where. This behavior continues as Willy encourages Biff to cheat off the neighbor, Bernard, for his Regents exam, and again when he asks both Biff and Hap to steal lumber from the construction site for the front porch. This eventually leads to both Willy’s infidelity and Biff’s habitual stealing, which is responsible for his continued failure in business. Willy was so intent upon teaching his sons how to be successful, but his inability to deal with reality and his twisted sense of morals were actually responsible for their failure.

Some literary experts were critical of Arthur Miller’s character, Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”, insisting that “Willy was a ‘little man’ and therefore not worthy of the pathos reserved for such tragic heroes as Oedipus and Medea”. In contrast, it could be argued that most of us cant even imagine life as characters such as Oedipus and this allowed the majority of society to identify more closely with the woe’s of a person such as Willy Loman.

Willy is an elderly failing salesman whose salary has been taken away and now works on commission. Finally, after thirty-four years, the company has no further use for him and discharges him. As he has grown older, he has trouble distinguishing between illusion and reality. He is continually lost in the past and
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