Death of a Salesman written in 1949 by American playwright Arthur Mill
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Death of a Salesman, written in 1949 by American playwright Arthur Miller, illustrates the destructive compulsion of a man to attain a success far beyond his reach. This is accomplished through the portrayal of Willy Loman, the play's central character. Willy Loman is a pathetic character because he does not hold any possibility of victory. Unrealistic dreams which are the product of a refusal to honestly acknowledge his abilities deter any triumph that Willy may have the ability to achieve. Throughout the play Willy Loman surrounds himself with an obvious air of insecurity and confusion. His lack of confidence and uncertainty in what he wants are qualities which prevent him from achieving his dream. Willy shows this weakness while observing himself in a mirror. He focuses completely on what he deems as negative qualities in his personality and physical appearance. In talking with his brother he reveals his insecurity by mentioning that he "feels kind of temporar!
y" (pg. 51). Although Willy has chosen to pursue success as a salesman he demonstrates confusion by continually contradicting that choice. Barclay W. Bates (1983) clarifies this in saying that Willy resents the encroachments, such as the loss of fresh air and fertile land, increased population and, most significantly, the competition which have been spawned by the very business community he has opted to be a member of (Koon, pg. 61). It is impractical to assume that Willy Loman can be victorious in a career that he does not seem comfortable in or completely dedicated to. His attempts make him pathetic because they are at the expense of confidence that he may receive from another field of work. Willy Loman's false pride is another factor that contributes to his pursuit of a prosperity which is unobtainable to him as a salesman. This attribute is apparent in him when his mind journeys back to the day he turned down his brother's offer to battle for riches in the Alaskan timbe!
rlands. Willy's most enthusiastic moments in the play come in directing the rebuilding of the front stoop, teaching his sons to polish the car and in talking with Charley of the ceiling he put up in the living-room. These instances make it obvious that his true talents and joys lie in working with his hands. He is unable to go with his brother and put his skills to use because he has given his family the impression that he is greatly excelling in his career. He is unable to leave behind such great success as a salesman for uncertainty in the woods without admitting his true position and suffering the humiliation of his lies. Willy is ready to avoid that embarrassment at the cost of happiness so that his family's praise for him may continue to remain active. Willy's false sense of pride also compels him to repeatedly refuse accepting the job offered to him by Charley, his friend and neighbor. Although he needs the money, Willy finds himself incapable of working for someon!
e who is the success he himself only pretends to be. It is also that same false pride which brings him to degrade himself by borrowing money from Charley so that he can keep his stature intact with his family. What Willy Loman views as pride is, in reality, his self-deprivation. By ignoring what he is best fitted to do Willy does not allow himself happiness or the opportunity for triumph. This makes him a pathetic character.V
Willy Loman cannot be victorious in achieving success because he does not have the aptitude to be a salesman or the capacity to be a good father. His jokes and much too talkative nature demonstrate his inability to do his job productively. His exaggerated claims of past profit and deals made with Howard's father are not able to get him a position in New York because he has long been insignificant to the Wagner Company. He was placed on commission like an inexperienced newcomer to the industry on account of interference in his job productivity: "You didn't crack up again, did you?" (pg. 79). Willy is unable to keep his business obligations. He displays this irresponsibility when he fails to make a sales trip to Boston and, as a result, he is fired. Since his own father was not
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