Understanding Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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Understanding Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


In order to really understand Willy Loman, from Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman, the reader must analyze the way his character is developed. Studying his thoughts, actions, how he relates to other characters and how other characters relate to him enables the reader to come to an understanding of the world in which Willy lives.

Although Willy sometimes has flashbacks, examining them, as well as his thoughts, helps the reader to understand and relate to him better. Willy had very high, but unrealistic expectations for his boys, especially Biff; he thought that they would be guaranteed success. This is illustrated in the quote, “I see great
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With all his hopes and dreams for Biff, Willy never paid much attention to Happy. Any praise and acts of approval were always focused on Biff. This is shown when Biff repeatedly says, “I’m losing weight, you notice Pop?” and Willy ignores him each time. Willy also has a lot of anger inside of him, which you can notice by his actions. When his boss Howard tells Willy that there is no job for him Willy gets very angry and bangs his fist on the desk in a rage.

Willy relates to the other characters in many different ways. With Biff, Willy feels angry, but also scared. He believes that Biff is a failure and could have had a very successful life if he only tried and Willy conveys this message to Biff quite often. On the other hand, Willy thinks that Biff does not love him, perhaps because of the affair that Willy had which only Biff knows about. In the end, Willy is quite surprised when Biff shows that he loves him. He says, “Isn’t that remarkable? Biff--he likes me!” (pg. 133) These two characters have a very uncomfortable relationship. Willy relates to Linda in a way that reveals his character as well. The readers get the impression that Willy thinks Linda is a stupid woman. He acts reasonably towards her physically, but emotionally he doese not show any respect for her. When she tries to speak, he is constantly telling her to be quiet and to listen, for instance he tells her, “Stop…