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Death of a Salesman

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Death of a Salesman In the play Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman has fallen victim to the American Dream. "Willy Loman has Fallen under the spell of the success dream". This dream is to ultimately gain business success; and in order to gain this success, Willy believed one must be well liked. Willy states, "it's not what you say, it's how you say it-because personality always wins the day." Willy strongly believed in this dream and passed it on to his sons; Willy wished his hopes and dreams for success onto his sons. Unfortunately, this theory did not work well in his life. As youngsters, his sons took to heart this advise, but as the play progresses, we see the downfall this advise has upon Willy and his son Biff. This false message is clearly shown in Willy's values in the raising of his son Biff. Biff is physically strong, the captain of his football team, and handsome. With this in mind, Willy believes that Biff does not have to work hard in his studies. Willy believes that Biff has the potential for advancement due to his popularity in school. Willy states, "A star like that, magnificent, can never really fade away." However, as a result, Biff fails Math and does not graduate high school. Willy presents this false dream to his son by emphasizing the idea of being popular. ...read more.


As a result Biff has no ambition to succeed in life because everything he believed in was built on a lie. Willy convinces himself and his sons that success is a product of being well-liked; however, he also encourages dishonest behavior. As a son, Biff encounters his father's acts of dishonesty and learns by them. However, Biff is not only witnessing unlawful acts, but is also being encouraged to perform them. For example, Biff stole a football from the locker room when he was in high school. Rather than be angry at Biff for stealing, like most parents would react, Willy encourages the unlawful act. Willy's reaction to Biff is: Coach will probably congratulate you on your initiative...That's because he likes you. If somebody else took the ball ther'd be an uproar. Instead Willy laughs at the theft because it reveals the power of personality, which gives his son privileges over others With the encouragement of stealing, Biff grows with the misconception that stealing is justifiable. This only leads to countless acts of stealing because Biff does not know any better. A second act of stealing cost Biff his job. While working for Bill Oliver, Biff stole a carton of basketballs and he was forced to quit. A third act is when Willy actually sends his sons to steal from a construction site. Charley warns Willy that the watchman will catch the boys, but Willy responds that they are " a couple of fearless characters." ...read more.


As a result, Biff lived his life in guilt because he was unable to succeed in the business world and impress his father. In turn, Biff is unable to please either himself or his father. The following quote displays Biff's dilemma: Biff who tries to retrace the steps of his father into the past and the West, is unable to accept a simple sense of harmony with his surroundings as adequate to the definition of success which his father has instilled in him. Furthermore, Biff's realization allows him to come to the conclusion that his failure is a result of his father's false dream. Willy has cost him every job he has had because Willy has implanted the idea that he is super to everyone. Biff states to Willy: you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! I had to be the boss big shot in two weeks, and I'm through with it! In summary, Willy Loman never acknowledges or learns the error of his way. To the very end he believes in this ideology that destroys him and Biff. As a result, Biff false victim to this false dream. Both Willy and Biff are denied peace because the philosophy on which they have built their lives denies them this. Both have a spiritual need that is unfulfilled and unrecognized because of their inability to discover what is meaningful in their lives. There is a great gap between what the two men desire and the reality of their lives" ...read more.

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