Death Of A Salesman - Willy Loman - Villain, Victim or hero. What is your view?

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Unit 3: Coursework

Arthur Miller (1915- )

Death Of A Salesman

Willy Loman – Villain, Victim or hero. What is your view?

Willy is a common man. He isn't anything special, nor ever was he. He chose to follow the American dream and he chose to lead the life it gave him. Willy made the American dream his culture, and the American dream made Willy its victim.

The American dream is the belief that through sheer hard work alone, any man can gain professional success and thus receive personal gain (wealth, name goods etc.). Failure to fulfil the American dream, is failure in life. Willy Loman is stuck in a vicious cycle brought on by the American dream. He cannot bring himself to admit that he has failed as a salesman due to his self-pride; therefore he must keep trying to succeed. The problem is, that he will never succeed as a businessman, as he doesn’t understand how business works. Willy Loman believes that in order to be a successful man in the business world, you need contacts:

 “Be liked and you will never want.”

Dave Singleman was a man who Willy met when he was young. Dave Singleman was the man who inspired Willy to become a salesman. Dave was eighty-four when Willy met him, and he was still working, but from a hotel where he was staying. Dave would ring up the friends that he had made in his time, and arrange business deals and meetings. This was the lifestyle that appealed to Willy. Willy also wanted to be like Dave and ‘pick up a phone and be loved and helped my so many different people.’ Dave Singleman is the representative of a successful salesman who followed the American Dream, and succeeded in his attempt to try and achieve it. Willy still believes in the same principles of how a successful salesman should be, and that was 40 years ago. Nowadays, the business world has changed, and in order to be a success, you need to be callous and cold blooded. The perfect example of a callous businessman is Willy’s brother Ben. Ben is a successful, ruthless businessman who doesn’t believe in contacts in the world of business:

Join now!

Never fight fair with a stranger.” 

Willy’s weakness is his failure to understand how the business world works and learning to adapt to new changes in time. It isn’t about having contacts and ‘being liked’, it is about being diligent and ruthless; ‘Business is business.’

Willy’s failure to adapt is proven in Howard’s office:

“In those days, there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect, and gratitude in it. Today, it’s all cut and dried, and there’s no chance for friendship to bear – or  personality.”

 Willy Loman is a victim of the American dream and ...

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