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Willy Loman

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Willy Loman
When one thinks of Willy Loman, victim is the last word that comes to mind. His character flaws make him responsible for his own misfortune. He has never taken responsibility for any of the disgraces in his life and has constantly blamed everyone, for not being able to live the life he feels he deserves. Some people are able to curb unrealistic expectations into something that is more tangible for them, while others such as Willy are not. Normally a salesman is someone who is able to accept their flaws and learn ways to improve, because this is how they make their living. Because Willy Loman never fully accepts his flaws, he has no way of progressing in life. He has reached the age where he can’t compete with the younger salesmen or keep up with the traveling that is required in order to be successful in his field. This is causing great strife in his life.
The pride of a man can contribute to his life by being either a great asset or a ridiculous flaw. This trait is definitely a flaw for Willy Loman. Pride can assist you with taking control of your life and allow you to get what you think you deserve, however, it can also be crippling. This was the case for Willy. Pride kept him from talking to his boss earlier in his life as to why he needs to stop traveling and work from New York. Driving over 700 miles out of town just to come home empty handed would be too much for anyone, but it definitely weighs a toll on a 60 year old man. Once Biff decided he would stay in town and start working on building a company with his brother, it was then that he decided to have the talk with Howard Wagner about staying in New York. Pride is also the reason Willy will not take a job from his best friend Charley. He is afraid of how it will look. Although he has been working on commission alone for a while and borrowing money from his friend, he will not take a job under him. Charley has extended this offer several times, and Willy continuously declines. One would think he would accept the offer once he is fired, but this does not change Willy’s mind. “I can’t work for you, that’s all, don’t ask why” (Miller 903). Willy would rather borrow money and lie to his wife about his income rather than make an honest living by working for a friend.
It’s also possible that Willy’s pride is partially to blame for his resentment towards his oldest son. Biff is everything that he wished he could be, because he has the gall to do what it is he loves to do. Willy too wanted to work with his hands and from what the reader is told he was good at it. But because this is not society’s view of success Willy believes this not acceptable. “How can he find himself on a farm? Is that a life? A farmhand?” (Miller 859). When his brother Ben first proposed that Willy goes to work in timberland with his boys, he was ecstatic. The thought of being outside and making a living for his family make him beyond proud. “God, timberland! Me and my boys in those grand outdoors!” (Miller 895). Once Linda voiced her opinion about the good job he has as a salesman, Willy quickly changed his mind. This is a decision he regrets until he dies.
In addition to being prideful, Willy was also delusional. To dispute the fact that staying in New York to work is a good idea, Willy believes that he is a vital asset in New England. He tells his wife this story but it is a complete contradiction to the fact that he borrows money from Charley every week because he does not earn any commission. “They don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England” (Miller 858). He is not only delusional when it when it concerns himself, but his delusions fall upon everyone and everything around him. The reader hears more than once that Biff was a salesman for Mr. Oliver. This has been told so often that Biff himself believed it to be true. It’s only towards the end of the play that we find he was only a shipping clerk. “Dad, I don’t know who said it first, but I was never a salesman for Bill Oliver” (Miller 907).
Because of the delusions Willy has portrayed about his life, he has made living terrible for his children. While Biff does what he wants and loves, he constantly feels guilty about not doing what he is supposed to be doing according to his father. Happy on the other hand is doing exactly what he should; however, he is not happy. He would rather be out west with his brother working with his hands and being free. However, he knows that according to society’s measures this would not be the proper thing to do. “See, Biff, everybody around me is so false that I’m constantly lowering my ideals…” (Miller 864).
The truth seems to avoid Willy Loman at all cost. The reader finds that Willy carried on an affair with a woman while working in Boston and was caught red handed by his son Biff. He is in such denial about the lies that he forgets the real reason his son Biff holds resentment against him. He would spend money on pantyhose for his mistress, while his wife would have to mend hers because they could not afford to get a new pair. “You gave her Mama’s stockings! […] You fake! You phony little fake! You fake!” (Miller 915). Because of Willy’s pride, his delusions of grandeur, and avoidance of the truth. Willy is the reason Willy is unhappy. He can blame no one but himself for the miserable life he leads. (999)

Works Cited
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. 2013. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. By Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 8th ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. 857-925. Print.

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