The play ‘Death of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller follows the lives of the Loman family made up of Willy





Death of A Salesman

The play ‘Death of A Salesman’ by Arthur Miller follows the lives of the Loman family made up of Willy, his wife Linda and their two sons Happy and Biff. Willy worked as a traveling salesman, but during the play, it is clear that he has lost his touch in the business and has become a failure at his job. However, he refuses to accept reality and keeps going on long trips, which yield nothing. Willy’s failure at work results in delusional episodes where he talks to himself and imaginary people only he can see. His two sons come home to visit and are astounded at the mental state of their father. Linda, Willy’s wife, is a long-suffering wife and mother who has stood by her husband despite his failures and unrealistic dreams (Thompson 53). The two couldn’t be more different. Willy is an impractical man who believes that personal attractiveness and being liked by people is the only way to succeed, while his wife is a realistic character who sacrifices her happiness for her husband and sons.

Willy is a delusional man stuck in the past and refusing to accept the reality of the present. When the play opens, he gets home from a failed business trip but cannot bring himself to acknowledge it. His wife Linda tries to tell him that he is too old to be traveling so much, but he does not listen to her. Instead, he tries to emphasize the important position he holds in his place of work by saying, “They don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England.” (Miller 4) This statement shows the reader just how out of touch Willy Loman is with reality. Linda, on the other hand, is a realistic woman. She tells Willy that at sixty years old, he is just too old to be traveling regularly. Willy brushes aside her concerns. When she tells him that his eyesight might be the reason for his bad driving, he gets upset at her. It is clear that the two are polar opposites with Willy ready to assign blame on anyone and everything but himself, while Linda tries to reason with him.

To further illustrate Willy’s sense of denial, he kept thinking of his son Biff’s past as a celebrated high school football player. In the play, both of Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy, are grown men who came back home to visit their parents. Willy is angry that at thirty-four years old, Biff is yet to make something of himself (Miller 6). Willy hoped that by that time his sons would have made a lot of money and had stable jobs. He reminisces on the boy’s time in high school and shows some regret that things turned out badly for his family. Linda tries to tell her husband to give the boys time to find themselves, but Willy will have none of it. He voices his disappointment in his grown sons with much bitterness. Linda is far more rational and accepts that their children are still trying to find their path (Zorn 223). She urges Willy to be more accommodating with them.

In contrast to his wife Linda, Willy spent a lot of time complaining. He would complain about his car, his sons, his boss, his neighbor Charlie among many other things. About his work, he tells Linda, “I’m very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don’t seem to take to me.” (Miller 23) He also regrets not going to Alaska with his brother Ben. Willy’s life is full of regrets and complaints instead of focusing on what he can do to make things right. He also refuses to accept help from his neighbor Charlie who offers him a job. Instead of being grateful, Willy is insulted by the offer. He should have taken it rather than keep asking Charlie for loans that he wouldn’t be able to pay back. Linda is the voice of reason in her household (Gale). She rarely ever complains but always encourages her husband that things will get better. For many years, she kept up with Willy’s unreasonable expectations at work and for his sons. It must have been a draining task, but she managed to do it without fail.

Willy and Linda are quite different in their sense of loyalty to each other and their family. Willy had an affair with a woman in earlier years, and during his delusions, he talks to her. His son Biff walked in on his father and his mistress, though Willy tried to brush it off, claiming the woman was a customer. Biff was not deceived by his father’s lie and that marked the beginning of a troubled relationship between them. Biff tells Linda that his father is a fake, “Because I know he’s a fake, and he doesn’t like anybody around who knows!” (Miller 42). Willy threw Biff out of the house because he knew about the affair. On the other hand, Linda is a devoted wife and mother, who does her best to keep her family together. She tells Willy to stop being angry at the boys. She also tells her sons not to be so hard on their father because he has many problems and has even contemplated suicide.

The one common factor between Willy and Linda’s characters is their love for their children. Willy had high expectations for his sons to live a good life. Despite his failure to instill the right values, his dreams for them can be considered a sign of love. Parents usually want the best for their children, and Willy was no different. The problem was that he lacked the right guidance and motivations on how to achieve the American Dream. According to him, all his boys needed were to be attractive and have other people like them. Biff and Happy grew into adults without specific goals in mind, and hence in the play, they are still struggling to find themselves. Biff blames his father, “And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from any- body! That’s whose fault it is!” (Miller 105) Linda loves her children as well and makes excuses for their lack of achievement in life. She tells Willy not to be so harsh on them but give them the chance to explore their path (Thompson 54). The two boys had hopes of opening up a business, and this greatly encourages their parents.

In conclusion, Willy Loman and his wife Linda are two very different people. In the play, Linda is a grounded and reasonable woman who has spent her life caring for her family. She has no dreams of her won; all she does in support her husband. Willy, on the other hand, loves to complain about how everything has conspired against him. He is angry, bitter, and disappointed with his work and his sons. He is a disloyal man who betrayed the wife and sons who loved him by having an affair outside his marriage. His betrayal is what drove a wedge between him and his son Biff. At the end of the play, Willy commits suicide and leaves his wife and sons ‘free and clear’.

Works Cited

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman: Revised Edition. Penguin, 1996.

Thompson, Terry W. “The Baggage Handlers: Arthur Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN.” The Explicator 75.1 (2017): 52-54.

Zorn, Theodore E. “Willy Loman’s lesson: Teaching identity management with Death of a Salesman.” Communication Education 40.2 (1991): 219-224.

Rebecca J.
Rebecca J.
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