Term Paper: Protagonist Willy Loman From Arthur

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[. . .] The world is raised to have eternal hope but when Loman gives up the observer may feel like giving up as well (Arthur Miller (http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc10.htm).Willy Loman represents the middle age crisis that so many people hear about or suffer from. It is a time when the dream is not realized and the dreamer discovers it was only an illusion all along (Arthur Miller (http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc10.htm).They commonly go out and buy new cars and they spend lots of money doing the things they wanted to do in their youth but didn't because they were to busy chasing the American Dream. Once that dream bursts many people step backwards and try to recapture their youth. Loman does not do that and instead when he realizes his entire life has been built on lies and wrong ideals he decides to stop living all together.

Willy's successful neighbor Charley describes the American salesman this way: "He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine (Nelson pg C01)." In Willy's case, it's more like a song and dance, and he can be a maddening figure as Burns shows you the used- up performer whose shtick has run dry.Willy is a deliberately terrible listener (which goes hand in hand with being a tone-deaf chatterbox) (Nelson pg C01). Burns, who cuts a rumpled, craggy figure here, has a commanding voice, and his Willy uses it with the bravura of an opera singer whenever he starts to hear about things he'd rather not: Biff's chronic failures, for instance, or the fact that Howard, Willy's young boss, is letting him go. Willy is never more alive than when he has Biff and Happy, his adoring sons -- at least in earlier years -- at his feet (their adoration seems more valuable to the big-hearted, lunkheaded Willy than a fat commission). He's a great and terrible huckster, beaming as he sells himself to his kids, filling the innocents with phantom tales of his mercantile prowess and of the wonderful lives that await them (Nelson pg C01)." The one thing Willy fails his children is however is preparing them for the future. He does not teach them that it is okay to fail. When Biff stops playing football Willy refuses to let go of the dream and in turn teaches Biff that without that success he is pretty much a nobody. When His other son does not excel in any way Willy ignores him and acts like he is not a valued member of Willy's life, which teaches him that if one does not stand out one is worthless. Willy himself teaches them the biggest lesson of their lives about success. He commits suicide when things get rough. This leaves his sons with the lesson that the way out is to quit and the way to remedy past mistakes is to abandon those who were most affected by those mistakes.


When one reads or watches the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller one cannot help but feel anger and pity for Willy Loman. He sets the stage for his eventual destruction when he refuses to be honest even with those closest to him. When things fall apart he has no one to turn to because he has never admitted the struggles. He believes if he is not a hero in their minds he will not be loved. When he finally makes the decision to die it is to perform the last act of sacrifice that he can, though it too is tainted with the desire to be worshipped for doing so. Willy Loman portrays the failure of the American Dream, the realization may come to when they reach middle age, and the inability to recover from the combination.

A father's dream is to raise his sons to become productive and active citizens. He does so through the example he sets and he does so by the lessons he teaches. Willy Loman spends his life presenting one view to his sons and shielding them from the reality of failure and the ability to recover from that failure. He does so out of his own need to be admired and loved but it is only in middle age that he realizes he has done them a grave injustice. As many parents realize, to late, he realizes he cannot go back and undo the damage he has caused the boys he loves so much and his answer for his crime is to commit suicide so they can at least benefit form the insurance.

Works Cited

Tad Tuleja, Death of a Salesman., The New York Public Library Book of Popular Americana, 01-01-1994. pg

Phelps, H.C., Miller's 'Death of a Salesman.'. Vol. 53, The Explicator, 06-01-1995, pp 239(2).

Linda Winer, Everyman Revisited / Dennehy is larger than life in a splendid 'Salesman'., Newsday, 02-11-1999, pp B02.

Lisa Bornstein; News Theater Critic, WILLY LOMAN, TV PITCHMAN SHOWTIME'S 'SALESMAN,' BRILLIANT CAST HIT HOME., Denver Rocky Mountain News, 01-08-2000, pp 6D.

Miller, Arthur, Works of Arthur Miller: Analyses Of Major Characters., Monarch Notes, 01-01-1963.

Arthur Miller


Nelson Pressley Special to The Washington Post, 'Death of a Salesman': Olney's Poetic Pitch., The Washington Post, 10-12-1999, pp C01.

Lloyd Rose Washington Post Staff Writer, The Many Faces Of the Salesman; Onstage, an Enduring American Archetype., The Washington Post, 04-25-1999, pp G01. [END OF PREVIEW]

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