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Willy Loman

Willy Loman

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Published by: proton1121 on Feb 23, 2013
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Joseph E.

Shumsky III

Willy Loman, the protagonist in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, liked to imagine that there would be hundreds of people at his funeral. The essence of his very being, which, at times, he uttered almost like a mantra, was that if he were well liked, then he would be successful. This philosophy is an understandable one, especially given the line of work that Loman was in: sales. This profession requires a God-given ability to read and influence people, more so than any sort of actual skill. His tragic flaw, or the event that would eventually lead to his undoing, however, was the

Life was good for Willy. I mean. essentially. however. for many years.fact that he allowed his mission statement to completely consume him. Loman became aware of the fact that he had a way with people. for many years. He. Every new client that he acquired. brought with it more time on the road. and. the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. but they were happy. however. he rallied enough money to raise a family with two children… and maintain all the necessary trappings that are associated with it. not by any stretch. away from home. He took the job of salesman and. The Loman family wasn’t rich. The words took on lives of their own. At a very early age. did quite a good job of it. In fact. This is not to say that he was unintelligent. Willy was an uneducated man. 2 . he did the smart thing… and decided to capitalize on this innate talent. His business philosophy and naturally charming personality combined to make him a gifted salesman. it was quite the opposite. When he came of the age when men go out into the world and stake their fortunes.

despite the odds. What he said went. though.” She was a good woman. I’m sure. the mid 1900’s. was his “cornerstone. He ruled the house with an iron fist. The timeframe in which Death of a Salesman was written.” 3 . was drastically different from that of today.” This pretty much sums up her character. and. wore the pants in the family. Linda. as Loman himself put it. You can almost hear the words echoing in the confines of Loman’s mind: “She likes you… She really likes you. she said something to the effect of: “That man is the best man I’ve ever known. his wasn’t the only household that operated under this premise. She loved Willy because of his charming personality and Willy loved her because she thought that he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. She absolutely adored her husband. to borrow from an old cliché. At one point in the story. She was all right with it. in those days. managed to maintain relatively positive relationships with his wife Linda and sons Biff and Hap. especially in the way of gender roles and relationships. There is no question that Willy. Linda understood her role in Loman’s life… as his semi-subservient.

however. this was the most flattering compliment that could be paid. He had flunked math. was on a path to end up just like his old man. Willy and Biff got along famously and. due to the fact that he hadn’t invested enough time in his studies. Willy constantly reminded Biff of the fact that he was well liked and. watching Biff grow up was probably. This was truly a 4 . I imagine.Biff. akin to reliving his own good old days. He was popular in school and an excellent athlete… Although it doesn’t actually say so in the story. that he could get by with his charm and wit… His math teacher didn’t agree. however. he found Loman with a woman that wasn’t his mother. He figured. seemingly Willy’s favorite of his two sons. He decided to pay his father an unannounced visit in order to ask him if he could smooth things over with his insubordinate math teacher. just after Biff was supposed to have graduated from high school. Things were going great for father and son until one day. keep in mind. exactly as Willy had lead him to believe. I’m sure Willy’s high school years were quite similar to Biff’s. to Loman. When he arrived at his father’s hotel room. to him.

and. was always secondary to Biff. Loman’s other son. Whether he realized it or not. in the early days. Loman must have also gotten the sense that Hap had gone into a similar line of work as his father because of some deep-rooted love and respect… And. Hap had a job and was in the process of climbing the corporate ladder. Willy disowned him. as such. Biff was mortified and. Willy was no longer well liked and idolized by his son Biff and. however. as a result. as such. After the falling out between Willy and Biff. got along well with Hap. Willy knew this and. as has 5 . Willy had a lot of respect for this type of dedication.tumultuous moment in the state of Biff’s relationship with his father. Hap. Not until the end of the story would these old wounds be licked clean. much like Loman had wanted to do in his own life. the relationship basically dismantled itself. soon after. Loman started to view his other son in a decidedly more positive light. but as a fraud. this loss of respect for his father would ultimately begin Biff’s downward spiral into confusion and indecisiveness. no longer viewed his father as a hero.

Words are exchanged and Loman leaves his office of 36 some odd years… unemployed. His whole family is unhappy. As Death of a Salesman opens. Much of the detail about Loman’s past and the fostering of his relationships with his family were told in the form of flashback. He hallucinates and speaks to people out loud who exist only in his imagination. Willy tries to get work only in the surrounding area but. these accidents are not accidents at all… They’re botched suicide attempts.already been established. Willy is obviously unhappy. Things aren’t going so well at work either. This is kind of the final nail in the coffin for Willy. this was the lifeblood that kept Willy running. presumably to be used in another suicide attempt. The customers and sons that once idolized him 6 . when he spreads this proposition out for his boss. Biff has recently returned home due to a string of bad luck. Linda finds a length of rubber hose in the basement. is brutally denied. Loman is getting old. It becomes revealed to us that Loman has been having accidents in his car… In reality. At this point in his life.

maybe. who attended Loman’s funeral. They didn’t even like him anymore… And it was this that Loman simply could not bear. Willy decided to off himself so his family could get some insurance money. The only thing in life that really matters is how you feel about yourself and. ultimately. I like to think that it was this that was his motivation behind committing suicide. He just couldn’t see that all of the stuff that he held so important. there were six people. It’s a shame. in fact.and eagerly waited for his arrival now found him more of a burden than anything else. really. didn’t matter at all. Loman finally realized this. I like to think. just maybe. Rather than live in a world where he was not well liked and. unsuccessful. Incidentally. counting the priest. 7 .

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