To what extent is Willy Loman betrayed in the play Death of a Salesman?

Authors Avatar by nishtar123 (student)

To what extent is Willy Loman betrayed in the play Death of a Salesman

In this essay, I will be exploring to what extent Willy Loman, a tragic hero and a failure in life was betrayed, and whether he too was a betrayer to some degree. Willy Loman plays an insecure character, who tries to achieve his dream of being a successful salesman and achieving the American Dream. The American Dream is his biggest weakness and ultimate downfall, in the 1950’s era the main belief was if you were not successful in your profession, you would be it seen as a failure of character and in life. Willy shares many of the American people’s ideas of the time; this is what makes him corrupt.

In the beginning of the play, the audience is initially aware of Willy’s older brother, Ben’s betrayal of his loyalty. His existence is only apparent in Willy’s imagination; he reappears to Willy as an illusion of the past/flashbacks. Ben also symbolizes the American Dream as he is Willy’s ambition to become successful, he is the only thing that is keeping him going as he believes that there is still hope in achieving the American Dream as Ben had been successful in achieving it. Ben had been successful as he had struck lucky whilst travelling in Alaska in search for their lost father, however due to Ben’s ‘faulty view of geography’ he as well as became lost and ‘landed in Africa’. The quote ‘William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen, when I walked out I was twenty-one. And by God I was rich’. This quotation shows that at the tender age of twenty one, Ben was able to achieve the American Dream, it further emphasises that Willy is still capable of achieving the Dream and plays a significant part of his downfall as it constantly reminds and haunts him of his decision to not go with him, ruining his chances of becoming successful and achieving the American Dream he long has been awaiting for.

Dave Singleman was another aspect to Willy’s downfall and betrayal, he is Willy’s inspiration to become a salesman, Willy had met Dave, a successful salesman which he had met many years before he had become a salesman. He had material wealth as well as popularity in society, something Willy had all his life wanted and craved for it, ‘cause what would be more satisfying then be able to go, at the age of eighty four, into twenty or thirty different cities and pickup a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people’. This shows that he had achieved the American Dream but at the age of 84, Dave was at the point of his life where there was just an ending and he had everything he wanted, he represents the idea that anything is possible even at any age which motivates Willy to keep to his goal.

Join now!

Another person who had betrayed him was his father; he had abandoned him when he was at the age of three. Throughout the play, details of Willy’s childhood and infancy isn’t mentioned apart from when he reminisces with Ben about the past, the audience then learn of his father’s occupation (‘gadget inventor’)and how him and the family had travelled by means of a ‘wagon’ across the country.  Willy had a traumatic childhood as he had a difficulty growing up without a father figure or someone who he could admire and have as a role model. This image portrays to ...

This is a preview of the whole essay