In Arthur Miller’s, Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman convinces himself that he is a valued, successful businessman, and that his sons are destined for greatness. His obsession with the American Dream and his ego, causes him to become delusional and totally blind of his actual situation. Willy’s false sense of reality leads him to escape the truth through his fantasies, flashbacks, and later through death. His state of mind results in him never being able to accept or understand the truth and projects his failures onto Biff. Willy Loman’s inability to distinguish his hopes from reality causes him to affect his sons’ life and views greatly.Willy Loman has a powerful father role in the lives of his two sons, Biff and Happy.
Biff, being the favorite, had to meet up to his father’s expectations of becoming successful. Throughout high school, Biff was taught that appearance and ego is what determined one’s ranking in life.
With this, he strives to become successful in football and well liked with his peers. Biff’s attempt to meet up to his father’s standards backfires when he struggles to keep his grades up. Biff risked his future success when following in his father’s footsteps to become a “successful” salesman. Biff admires Willy and goes along with it to only discover his affair with another woman. This drastically changes his view of his father and now questions everything he’s ever taught him and his identity.
Willy talks to his sons’ like he has the ideal life and says, “And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ’cause one thing, boys: I have friends” (31). Willy believes that being a salesman makes him the most admired and successful man rather than choosing a career that would actually supply him with success. Willy’s morals are now wrong in the eyes of Biff and believes his failure is because of his teachings. Biff spent most of his life trying to please Willy but the affair sparked his realization that his lier of a father has been chasing the wrong dream his whole life.Happy Loman, the younger sibling, grew up always wanting to impress his father because the attention was mainly on Biff. Biff is the star child in Willy’s eyes and Happy would always go the extra mile to prove himself. Therefore, Happy became a businessman in order to impress his father.
Happy follows in Willy’s footsteps and does not become the most successful in his career. He escapes his failure by turning to women for comfort and an ego boost since Willy could not supply him with proudness. Happy searches for an ego boost wherever he can get one mainly because of Willy’s influences of being “well-liked”:”WILLY: Tell you a secret, boys. Don’t breathe it to a soul. Someday I’ll have my own business, and I’ll never have to leave home any more.HAPPY: Like Uncle Charley, heh?WILLY: Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not-liked. He’s liked, but he’s not-well liked.
” (30).Willy expresses his opinion that being well-liked is what will grant one a successful life. His views on life are disoriented and is a spitting image of his father internally.
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