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Death of a Salesman


Willie Lowman is a character that most anyone can identify
with. He has two sides to his life; On one side he creates
an image of being successful, well liked, and bold. On the
other side he feels old, unsuccessful, defeated and
disliked. He maintains the successful image to comfort his
wife and friends. This veil of success becomes thinner and
thinner until he lingers between fantasy and reality of the
cruel world, often changing back and forth in the course of
a conversation. The core of Willie^s slow painful demise
into nothingness is based upon his beliefs. Willie thinks
that success is not what you know, but who he knows and how
well he is liked. These beliefs he instills in his sons,
who find themselves adrift and meaningless just like their
father. In addition Willie sees the world changing, and his
own inability to change with it, will seal his fate. He
misses the open land and the smell of flowers in the
summer, the pollution and high rise apartments add to Wil!
lies dismal existence. An example of Willies shift from
fantasy to reality is during his conversation with his wife
about the Chevy. He thinks the car is fantastic, the best
ever built. Later he and his wife discuss some bills that
were paid, and when told about the bill to get the Chevy^s
carburetor fixed, he says that they ought to prohibit the
manufacture of the car.
Willie Lowman is finding himself less and less capable. He
dreams of making it big and has visions of Uncle Ben who
gives him advice on how to get rich, but never the kind of
advice Willie wants to hear. Willie is concerned about his
image. He is a great showman who can brag and flaunt like
the best of them, and as witness to the hard truth of his
failure he continues to weave fairy tales and live in
fantasy. Willie wants his sons to be better off and more
successful than him, but he has already corrupted them, and
they too claim achievements well beyond reality. Biff comes
to the reality of his position in life in the opening of
the play. He knows he is not cut out for the business
world. Biff prefers to move back to Texas and work on a
farm. Although he realizes working on the farm won^t make
him successful, he knows that it^s his calling in life.
Happy who is fairly stable and comfortable in his work,
prefers to continue with the charade, and the deception so
as long as it! makes life easier for him. Although his sons
will not be successful, I think Willie Lowman did the best
he could. Willie is not to blame for his sons
disappointments, although he has delayed their success by
giving them false ideas about success.
The family situation is that of the standard dysfunctional
family. The mother is upset by her sons because they have
no respect for Willie and show no concern for his decline.
Willie loves his wife, but often mistreats her, cuts he off
in mid conversation and belittles her. Biff begins to hate
his father because of the constant pressure to succeed,
along with his fathers adultery and abuse of his mother.
However Biff still cares very deeply for his father deep
down inside. Willie^s favorite son is Biff; however Biff is
also a continual source of disappointment for his father
because of his inability to assert himself in the business
world. Happy is most like his father in the way that he
much prefers fantasy over reality. Happy is willing to
continue with pretending everything is all right so as long
as it makes life easier. The conflict is Willie versus
nature. Nature being the environment and Willies inability
to change and conform to it^s dynamic and changing nature.
The characters in this play are easily understood because
of their similarity to most people who find themselves
washed up in this game called life. People watching the
play can easily identify with these characters who
represent the average working class family. Nobody wins in
the end because it^s real life. The father kills himself,
hoping that the insurance money will send his family on
their way to success; and in actuality the insurance money
from his death will heal no wounds, or right any wrongs.



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