Death Of A Salesman 3 Essay, Research Paper
What motivates a man? Death of a Salesman challenges the American dream. Before the Depression, an optimistic America offered the alluring promise of success and riches through booming businesses and the attractive stock market. Willy Loman is a victim of the American Dream, which has been proven unsuccessful with him and his sons. They were seeking something that was simply out of their reach as well as their knowledge. Willy Loman desired fortune, family and fame. In some ways, Willy and his sons seem trapped in a transitional period of American history. Willy, now sixty-three, carried out a large part of his career as a salesman.
If there were no money, there would be no food. Willy Loman represents a uniquely American figure: the traveling salesman. Every week, he takes a journey to stake his bid for success. It would be difficult to miss the survival of the American frontier mentality in the figure of the traveling salesman. The idea of the American dream was heavily influenced by the rush for gold and fast money. Thousands of new niches opened in American culture, and the aspiring young man with talent and a dream could not help striking gold somewhere in the jungle of economic transactions. Willy, despite his inability to advance beyond his position as a common salesman, still believes he lives in the greatest country in the world. His job requires that he appear confident and self-assured. This facade protects him from the inevitable indifference of reluctant buyers. Ironically, Willy’s facade is his first and most important product. He has to successfully sell himself before he can sell his product line. Willy’s primary problem is that he cannot separate himself from his professional role. Therefore, a buyer’s rejection of Willy’s sales pitch constitutes a personal rejection. It threatens Willy’s view of himself, as he conflates his personal identity with his professional role. He believes that natural charisma, good looks, and confidence are the most important attributes needed for success. Biff’s failure to move ahead despite his “personal attractiveness” bewilders him. Both his sons are “well liked” and seem destined for easy success. Yet, with this idea in mind, Willy and Linda’s lives are full of monthly payments on possessions that symbolize that dream: a car, a home, and household appliances. The proliferation of monthly payments allowed families with modest incomes to hedge their optimistic bets against certain future success. The husband would surely advance to higher and better paid positions over time, so why not buy these symbols today? I can’t understand it. At this time especially. First time in thirty-five years we were just about free and clear. He only needed a little salary. He was even finished with the dentist. (Linda 137).
Willy and Linda try to build their own version of the American dream with their family. In high school, Biff was the all-American boy as the captain of the football team. True to the myth of the all-American boy, girls and admiring friends surrounded him. And with these personal attractiveness, Willy see great things for them. (Willy 64). Unfortunately, they live a superficial life of lies and false beliefs. Whenever something is terribly wrong, it is covered up with a lie. Hap was the son that was never given the proper attention he desired. However, Biff was given too much attention, especially since he is a football star, to a point that Biff extols his father as being the most suave and best salesman possibly be. After a many years of lies, Biff came to realize that their family is not a dime a dozen! I am
Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman. The door of your life is wide open. (Biff 132). But what Biff didn t realize at first is that this was all a facade, which soon led to the demise of him and his father.
Willy is obsessed with being well liked. In part, his obsession is due to his fusion of his professional role with his identity. The consummate salesman is a favorite of the buyers. He performs his role so well that he blurs the lines of friendship and business relationships. In doing so, the consummate salesman all the more effectively seduces the buyer into purchasing his products. However, Willy has bought his own sales pitch, so he regards his professional contacts as “friends.” Their indifference to his sales pitch hits him even harder since their rejection constitutes a personal attack. He regards being well liked as a measure of his success because he has bought his own sales pitch. Not being liked constitutes both a personal and professional failure. Willy believes that his customers or his so-called friends liked him for who he was. In the future, Willy fancies the idea of being like his role model. And Old-Dave, he d go up to his room, y unerstand, put on his green velvet slippers I ll never forget and pick up his phone and call the buyers, and without ever leaving his room, at the age of 84, he made his living And when i saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ‘Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? When he died, hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. (Willy – 81). Yet when it comes to Willy s funeral, Linda had one question Why didn’t anybody come? (Linda 137). Once again, the dream of fame has backfired.
Willy believes in the American dream of certain family, fame and fortune. Within the logical framework of this dream, the individual need only strive forward to the future with a can-do attitude of confidence in order to enjoy the fruits of family, fame and fortune. Therefore, Willy regards the failure to succeed as the result of a personal flaw rather than a flaw in the American dream itself. In order to preserve his identity, Willy cannot acknowledge his failure to acquire his desires promised by the American dream. He cannot admit doubt or insecurity because a good salesman always remains confident, and the American dream promises success to the confident, eager individual. Death of a Salesman addresses Willy’s struggle to maintain his identity in the face of narrowing hopes that he or his sons will ever fulfill his dreams.