As one experiences the unpredictability of personal and business relationships, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel content with oneself. In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” Willy Loman demonstrates startling similarities to Chris Gardner in Gabriele Muccino’s “The Pursuit of Happyness.” The impact that their sons have on their decisions, the level of support from their significant others, and the men that offer them a pathway to happiness are all noteworthy relationships that reinforce the similarities between these protagonists. The bond between a father and son is one of the strongest feelings known to man: a manifestation of masculinity that cannot be attained in any other form.
A “Tragic Hero” can be defined as someone of high stature that is blind to reality and makes decisions that eventually lead to his downfall. Arthur Miller challenged that idea in his play Death of a Salesman. He brought this idea that a low man, a common man can be a tragic hero. A tragic hero needs to be a character that anyone can relate to and feel empathy for.
Willy Loman, whom people say is the protagonist of the play, shares a very complex relationship with many different people in his life, specifically, his eldest son Biff. Critics suggest that Willy cannot be the protagonist because although he is present throughout the play, and we know lots about him, his son Biff is also noticed in the same way as Willy and is a strong character who seems to, at times, help Willy get through life. Throughout the play, a strong theme of realisation is displayed amongst the two characters, Willy and Biff. A major realisation is that of Biff no longer wanting to, or trying, to be the man his father seems to so desperately want him to be.
Legendary fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger once said, "The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive, and passion, it 's possible to achieve the American dream," which are ideals that Willy and Biff struggle with throughout the play The Death of a Salesman. Willy and Biff have different ideas of the American Dream which may or may not have an impact on the rest of their lives. Willy believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream that a “well liked” and “personally attractive” man in business will indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Oddly, his fixation with the superficial qualities of attractiveness and likeability is at odds with
Imagine this: you’re a teenager on the verge of adulthood, excited for the rest of your life to begin, but then your world comes crashing down around you. Everything you thought you knew is now no more. You go to tell the person you look up to, your dad, but he’s the one who caused the world to crash. The worst part? The fact that he is unaware of the impact he had on you, and blames you for the mistakes you make because of it.
“The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead” (33). In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller uses foil characters to elucidate Willy’s flaws that ultimately prevent him and his family from succeeding. The contrast between Charley and Willy and Bernard and Biff serves to highlight how Willy’s obsession with achieving his version of the American Dream impacts both his life and his children’s. His poor values are passed on to his children producing even more failures. ¬¬¬¬Both Charley and Willy work as salesmen, however Charley represents what Willy desired to become – successful.
No one comes to Willy’s funeral, because he wasn’t really as well known as he made his family believe. Linda: “But where are all the people he knew? Maybe they blame him…”(Miller 137). Willy Loman believed he was a very “well-liked” salesman. When he in fact was nothing close.
Comparing Willy Loman’s and his dreams to the average American and their American Dream helps illuminate how to not achieve the American Dream. Willy Loman was an unrealistic thinking salesman who believed he was living in his American Dream which consisted of being loved by his peers, having a large amount of money, and good personality. He was none of these things, only his family attended his funeral, he could not afford life insurance anymore, and people believed he was arrogant. His wife explains “Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper.
As people grow old, their bodies and their minds tend to slow down and with this process comes the need for retirement or the necessity to take on less responsibility. There is a belief in society that as people age they cannot produce or be a strong commodity like they were in their youth. This conviction that the elderly cannot keep up with the younger workforce is obvious in Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman. The protagonist, Willy Loman, is not as competent of a salesman as he was in his younger age. In the play, Willy is regularly showing signs of old age by experiencing hallucinations, not performing his job well, and ultimately losing his job as he is not meeting his quotas.
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman takes place in the post-World War II era. Miller does a phenomenal job of incorporating the elements of social commentary and realism. Social commentary and realism involves portraying current and realistic social issues. These issues give characters real world problems and makes it easier for the audience to relate to them. In this case, Miller successfully uses the social ideals of 1949 to develop his character’s motives.