Willy Loman What's It All Analysis

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As a race, mankind has always been obsessed with the meaning of life. For centuries, human existence has been a topic of heated debate and profound contemplation. The question of life’s meaning consequently results in numerous other mysterious inquiries, especially that which asks, “Is there a single purpose or meaning behind human existence?” In response to this question, British philosopher Julian Baggini, throughout his text What’s It All About?, claims that there is no single purpose behind human life; however, there are multiple different meanings behind existence--and one of those meanings is happiness. Similarly, American playwright Arthur Miller discusses happiness--specifically, the effects of prioritizing it in one’s life, and the…show more content…
Julian Baggini iterates that while “happiness is important… it’s not everything; it’s worth having but hard to possess,” though he also admits that happiness’ role in life’s meaning is “so unclear,” (90). It is evident that Miller mirrors this sentiment--his main character, Willy Loman, devotes his entire life to achieving “happiness” through personal success. However, Miller depicts Willy’s goal, pursuing happiness as the main purpose of life, in a very tragic manner. Willy is greatly unable to achieve his goals. And, even in death, he did not obtain happiness or even guarantee his sons’ happiness, though he ends his life just because there is a possibility that his death may inadvertently bring success, and with it, happiness, to his family. As Willy considers his plan, he exclaims that his son, Biff, will “worship me for it!” (135). Soon after, Willy says, “When the mail comes he’ll be ahead of Bernard again!” In response, Willy’s image of Ben replies that this suicidal plan is a “perfect proposition all around,” (135). But, as much as Willy yearns for success and happiness, especially through Biff’s career, he fails. The proposition is not perfect, and Biff will not succeed as a salesman. Because Miller describes Willy’s obsession with achieving happiness and the tragic consequences of that characterization, it is clear that Miller understands that happiness is, as Baggini states, “not
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