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Willy Loman: Character Analysis

In the play “Death of the Salesman”, Author Miller creates a vivid character of an old who has wasted his life searching for the American dream. The tragedy of Loman show the case with the American dreamer and loser who fails to find its place in this life. The main hero of the play is Willy Loman, an elderly failing salesman whose salary has been taken away. Thesis Readers should treat and interpret Willy Loman as a tragic character unable to find the truth and happiness in his life.

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Miller portrays that Willy Loman is returning home from his unlucky trip devastated and without money. He is rather tired of this life. Upon returning home he saw his grown sons, Biff and Hap have returned home to visit their father. Similar to Willy, Biff has lost his way in life and decided to return home. The other son is living in his own apartment. This reality versus illusion problem is a thing that eventually brings about Willy’s downfall. According to Willy, a man can be “worth more dead than alive” (Miller 22). Charlie, who faces the voice of reality, tells Willy, “A man isn’t worth anything dead” (Miller 13). Willy also finds himself incapable to introduce changes. As a result, the main can be described as the one who is lost in the modern era of technology. Willy has lost his idea of life while trying to live according to an American Dream pattern. In fact, he is disenchanted with the society he is living in.

The play enables the author to distinguish between reality and illusion, particularly in term of Willy. This is a major theme of the play. Along with that this, the above mentioned topic serves to be a source of conflict. The conflict can be seen through the analysis of Willy’s comments. The main protagonist believes that his sons are successful. This belief has nothing to do with the reality. In other words, Willy is mistaken. The play shows that both of the sons and Willy himself are not successful. Certain lines in the play are used to point to flaws of the main the character. These are present in the characters of both Willy and Hap. For example, Willy believes that he has all chances to be successful. This illusion draws Willy to making the erroneous conclusions. When to perceive a whole issue on the literal level, one can see that Willy is very often lapses into a flashback and appears. This person proves himself to be preoccupied with reliving conversations and situations that occurred years ago. The above mentioned thing can be explained by person’s inability to see reality. Willy replies to Linda “[wildly enthused, to Linda]: Stop interrupting! [To biff] But don’t wear sport jacket and slacks when you see Oliver” (Miller 47). The past achieves representation in the same way that it appears in life itself. Instead of an interpersonal action that would call for representation of the past, the dramatic description is generated by the family members overpowered by memory.

In sum, Miller portrays Willy as a tragic character but an authoritarian head of the family who leaves no freedom for his wife and children. The play reflects ideas and feelings of the family members and allows readers to understand opinion differences and worldviews of Linda, Biff and Happy. Thus, for all characters the past remains a painful experience and can create no deceptive bridges between the family members and Willy whom the analysis brings together— the family members whom it had left in lifelong separation.

Works Cited

Arthur Miller Death of a Salesman. New York University Press. 2002.

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