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Death of a Salesman

The book Death of a Sales man is a story in which the character Willy
plays a big role in. There are causes for Willy’s downfall, which shall be
explained in this paper. Willy was angry at his sons Biff and Happy for
the way they lived their lives and not living up to his expectations, and
he was angry that he lost his job. The first reason why Willy is in a
downfall is because he is angry with his son, Biff, for the way he lived
his life.

Willy is angry at Biff because he wasn’t living up to his expectations is
one reason why he is in a downfall. This is one reason why he is in a
downfall; he gets angry at Biff whenever he comes around the house because
he is so young and making little money. “…And then the closer you seem to
come the more shaky he gets and the time you get here..he’s
arguing. He seems angry at you”. This quote relates to the thesis because
it tells how Willy reacted around Biff and how he is disappointed in him.

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Willy’s disappointment in Biff was one reason why Willy was in a downfall.

Another reason why he is in a downfall is because not only was he
disappointed in Biff, he was disappointed in his other son Happy.

Willy’s disappointment at his other son Happy for not living up to his
expectations is another reason why he is in a downfall. This is a second
reason why Willy is in a downfall because Happy couldn’t become the
businessman like Willy wanted him to be. “..we for two basketball teams,
see? Two water polo teams. We play each other. It’s a million dollars worth
of publicity…we could sell sporting goods”. This relates to why Willy is
in a downfall because this is just an idea that Happy thought of that never
ends up working in the end and Happy still has to wait to become the
merchandise manager. Willy’s disappointment in his other son, Happy, for
not living up to his expectation of being “the man on top” is a second
reason why Willy is in a downfall. Another reason for Willy’s downfall was
he losing his job.

Willy’s downfall directly relates to the loss of his job. Willy, a well-
known businessman, became in need of money when his salary was taken away.

The loss of his job also meant a small funeral for him. “..He works for a
company for 36 years this march, opens up unheard of territories to their
trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary”. This relates to
Willy’s downfall because Willy’s pride was being taken away and he lost a
lot of respect for himself. For instance, he tried to commit suicide by
driving off a bridge, but the shallowness of the water saved him. All 3 of
these reasons tell why Willy is in a downfall.

There are causes for Willy’s downfall. Willy’s disappointment in Biff for
not matching up to his standards is one reason. Willy’s disappointment in
Happy for not matching up to his standards is a second reason. And after
Willy lost his job is the third and biggest reason for his downfall. In the
end Willy killed himself, even after Biff told him that he really loved

Death of a Salesman

Biff says, “He had the wrong dreams.” What was wrong about Willy’s dreams?
Was there a right dream for Willy? Is Willy ever a success? Explain. What
dream could Willy have followed successfully?
In Arthur Millers’ Death of a Salesman, we see how the American Dream had
such a great impact on the lives of people, and how it meant a promise of
freedom and opportunity for everyone. People believed that by working hard
they could accomplish anything they wanted, along with financial support
for their families and a happy home. Willy Loman, the main character in the
play had a strong belief in the American Dream and worked very hard to
accomplish his goal of becoming a successful salesman. Willy was only one
of the victims of the American dream, whose life was ruined from the
unreasonable goals he had set for himself. His dream of becoming a ‘well-
liked’ and ‘popular’ salesman destroyed both his life and that of his
family, as he did not have the temperament or the personality of a
salesman. Willy of course did not see this and believed that he would
someday be able to fulfill his dream, if only he worked hard enough.

Willy’s dreams were idealistic and he was too stubborn to see that they
were not going to happen. His inability to reach his dreams led him to live
in fantasies, this was his way of getting away from reality and not having
to face the fact that he is not, and never will be what he dreamt of his
whole life. He fantasized of his popularity; something his boss called
‘false pride’. His dreams were not well suited with his personality and the
skills he had. Willy was excellent with working with his hands and making
things. He most likely would have been successful if he had pursued a
career in carpentry, as he was talented in that field. Willy choose a
career that meant he would be rich if he was successful and completely
disregarded his talents. He felt that he was ‘too good’ for carpentry and
saw himself as being superior to others. He felt that salesmanship was the
only field for successful people, and not being able to succeed in that
field himself, passed on his ideals to his sons. Although both his sons
were different from each other, their father was a role model for both,
someone they looked up to and admired. Willy had wanted them to succeed so
badly; he felt that if they succeeded then he would be part of that
success. This is why he set certain expectations for them, and made them
feel that they needed to accomplish their father’s ideals.

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Biff, the favored son, loved his father and had a strong relationship with
him until he came back home and saw what had become of his idol. He found
out about the affair and the lies his father had told him. This completely
changed his views of his father and made him feel like he was cheated his
whole life, thinking that his father was the ‘perfect figure’. Being hit
with the truth, he was devastated and felt that he had to change and make
up his own goals that would make him happy. Biff realized through his
father’s failure that the American Dream was not for everyone and that not
everything can be accomplished by hard work. For example, to become a
salesman, you need to have technique, skill and be able to attract people
to your product. You have to have good relations with people and know just
exactly how to sell your product. It is not just motivation and hard work.

This is what he meant when he said, “He had the wrong dreams”.

Willy had high dreams for himself and for his sons, he was never satisfied
with what he had and always wanted more. When he fails as a salesman,
nothing else, not even the love of his family and his talent as a carpenter
are enough to comfort him. He feels that anyone who cannot succeed in
business has no point to live. When Charley offered him a job, Willy
rejected thinking he was ‘too good’. Thinking he was too good for almost
everyone and everything was what destroyed his relationships with people,
something that may have contributed to his loss of customers over time. It
was also what destroyed him and led him to the wrong career. If Willy had
been satisfied with being a carpenter, he would have been successful and
had enough money to support himself and his family. He would have been
happy and most likely had friends. Thinking too highly made him deny
people’s friendships and go on his own.

Personally I cannot say that Willy was ever a success. His ideals were all
wrong and passing them on to his sons was also wrong. His wife was treated
badly from him, as was his friend Charley. He expected everyone to have the
same views as himself and if they did not, he saw them as a failure. He did
not succeed in maintaining a job, raising his children well with the right
values, creating friendships or in being faithful and honest to the people
around him. The American Dream he followed was what eventually destroyed
him and led to all these things. The one instant I feel Willy did the right
thing was by killing himself. Although this may sound harsh, it was the
only way to rid those around him of his ideals. It left them to do what
they wanted, without having him in the way. It was also a way for him to
rest and not have to face his failure which would have completely destroyed
him. Knowing he had failed in business was only one thing, but to later
realize that he had failed in many areas would have been even more


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