Success And Failure In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

1818 words - 7 pages

Success and Failure in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman

 
    Most people strive for excellence in their lives and aspire to succeed at whatever they complete. Success means many different things to different people. It includes happiness, money, and a career. In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, we follow Willy Loman, the protagonist, as he reviews a life of desperate pursuit of a dream of success. Miller uses many characters to contrast the difference between success and failure within the play. Willy is a salesman whose imagination is much greater than his sales ability; he is also a failure as a father and husband. Biff and Happy are his two adult sons, who follow in their father's fallacy of life, while Ben and his father are the only members of the Loman family with that special something needed to succeed. Charlie and his son Bernard, enjoy better success in life compared to the Loman's who attempt to succeed but constantly seem to fail.

Willy Loman is the main character and protagonist in Death of A Salesman. For Willy Loman, perseverance and diligence are not important but rather material success, as well as personal attractiveness. Willy cannot see who he and his sons are. He believes they are great men who have what it takes to be successful and beat the business world. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. In reality, Willy and sons are not, and cannot, be successful. Willy was not successful at anything he did in life. He was a failure as a father, husband and businessman. Willy was not a good father because he focused too much on his career and his false dreams and ignored his family. Since he was always away on business trips he never really got to know his sons well. His love for his sons was based on their achievements. Biff is a primary example of this, because when Biff failed at his athletic achievement and lost his scholarship, Willy is so devastated that he cannot love Biff the way he used to. Willy wants Biff to be the success that he never was. Another factor of Willy's breakdown is that he is unable to admit his faults. This aspect is shown in many parts of the play. An example of this is when Willy has an affair with another woman and tries to justify himself to Biff. He teaches his children that success is fast and easy to achieve when in reality it is not. As a businessman Willy is also a failure. He does not earn sufficient amounts of money, and lies to his family about his earnings. Willy is a dreamer. "His dream is a false one because it corresponds only to what is immediately given as the object of dreams--swell jobs, fat incomes, splendid accouterments, splash and display. (Clurman 336) As a father and husband, Willy is a pathetic and selfish failure.

Biff Loman is Willy's son and it is the conflict between the two that the story of the play revolves around. Biff was a star football player in high school, with scholarships to two major universities. He flunked...

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