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Betrayed or Betrayer? Discuss theses two aspects of Willy Loman's character and comment on how they affect both Willy himself and the other characters' relationships with him.

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Betrayed or Betrayer? Discuss theses two aspects of Willy Loman's character and comment on how they affect both Willy himself and the other characters' relationships with him. 'Death of a Salesman' is a play written by Arthur Miller and first produced on stage in 1949. This play is Miller's most famous work. The play shows a conflict within one family but on a deeper level does much more than that. This play deals with larger issues regarding American national values. Miller examines the American peoples ideas and beliefs. This play looks at the life of the Loman family in particular Willy Loman who is the central character in this play. Willy Loman is 'past sixty years of age', a husband, and father who is exhausted and coming towards the end of his life. This play follows his last 24 hours. In order to understand the conflicts leading up to boiling point in the Loman household and the reason why Willy eventually takes his own life, Miller uses 'flashbacks'. Each flashback somehow relates to the present. They also offer essential background knowledge. The main relationship throughout the play is Willy's and his eldest son, Biff. Both characters believe that the other has betrayed them; in fact, this is quite true. The theme of betrayal runs throughout this play. The aim of this assignment is to look at the different points of Willy Loman s character asking was he betrayed or was Willy the betrayer. When analyzing this play it would seem that Willy betrayed others because he had been betrayed. In order to understand this play one must first understand what it means to be an American and believe in the American dream in that era. ...read more.


In comparison Linda, his wife betrays him because she never forces Willy to face up to the truth the fact that he is not a success. Linda is extremely stoic, typical of most women of this era. She is Willy's destroyer. She has boundless love and accepted Willy's imaginary greatness and his dream. This acceptance and encouragement of Willys dream makes things worse. Linda talking to Willy during one of the flashbacks tells him 'but you're doing wonderful, dear. You're making seventy to a hundred dollars a week' Willy is distressed about not only his ability to provide the family with enough income to pay the bills, but also about how others perceive him. Linda's replies 'you don't talk to much, you're just lively' and 'Willy, darling, you're the handsomest man in the world', and 'To me you are. The handsomest.' In addition 'few men are idolized by their children the way you are' Linda betrays Willy and the hosepipe used is an example of Linda's compliance. Linda is aware that Willy has tried to commit suicide, 'everyday I go down and take away that little rubber pipe. But, when he comes home, I put it back where it was. How can I insult him that way?' the hosepipe is a symbol of Willys desperation and Linda's betrayal. The last betrayers to be discussed are Willy's sons. More so, Biff. Willy idolizes Biff. His obsession with the American dream is the one thing he cannot sell to Biff. Willy feels betrayed because his sons are not successful. Willy says 'Biff is a lazy bum!' who 'has yet to make thirty five dollars a week!' ...read more.


Business is not what it used to be. When Willy is talking of his inspiration to be a salesman he tells Howard 'in those days there was personality in it...respect...comradeship...gratitude in it. Today it's all cut and dried. The business of selling has changed Willy cannot accept this. His father, his boss Linda and his sons, but most of all his warped version of the American Dream have betrayed Willy. 'America is the land of opportunity' the belief still apparent today. In such a great land of opportunity success should come fairly easy, so therefore to be unsuccessful, as Willy was, could make a man feel bitter about failure. This is why Willy could never face up to his failure, never face reality, the truth. He did not want to feel excluded from all the success around him. In fact, success was just next-door. Bernard, Biffs close childhood friend, became a success. Willy tells Ben before he commits suicide 'when the mail comes he'll (Biff) be ahead of Bernard again' He is living proof that the dream can come true. The original American dream described by the country's founders has been falsely constructed to suit the argument of pro- capitalists. The capitalists main goal is to ensure the people continue to buy. This need for material goods, success, blocked out any truth or moral vision. The 'pursuit of happiness' to find ones place in society is up to the individual. The play can be viewed as a social commentary about the American system, an insight, an understanding of the deep essence of the United States. The characters deliberately contrast between success and failure because the system is not the one to blame. Willy can only blame himself for not becoming what he wanted to be. ...read more.

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