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A Self-Defeating Ideal

When people dream and strive to meet their goals, it can be a glorious thing. However, when success overshadows their dreams and one becomes obsessed with that success, it can lead to a path of destruction. For some people, achieving the life that matches up with the “American Dream” is that path of destruction. This lifestyle is very evident in the main characters of both “Death of a Salesman,” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” Willy Loman and Walter Lee Younger. They’ve dedicated their lives to a self-defeating ideal. Although they had different reasons in mind, the two characters are very similar. In both films, there are different visions of the American Dream. In “Death of a Salesman”, the main character, Willy Loman devoted his life in the pursuit of reaching the American Dream. To him, a perfect life meant being loved by all, wealth, and being remembered. However, as hard as he worked, and as much as he believed that he deserved everything, his dream was unattainable. He dreamed of everyone knowing who he was, and having a huge funeral, with tons of people attending. His life was …

Willy Loman’s Illusions and Delusions in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman’s Illusions and Delusions in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Charley says something in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman that sums up Willy’s whole life. He asks him, “When the hell are you going to grow up” (Miller 97)? Willy spends his entire life in an illusion, seeing himself as a great man who is popular and successful. Willy exhibits many childlike qualities and his two sons Biff and Happy pattern their behavior after their father. Many of these qualities, such as idealism, stubbornness, and a false sense of self-importance in the world have a negative impact on Willy’s family,

Willy is like an impetuous youngster with high ideals and high hopes. Children always have high hopes for their future. They all want to be astronauts or millionaires. Willy always believes he can achieve that kind of success. He never lets go of his wistful life. “…What (sic) could be more satisfying than to …pick up a phone and call the buyer, and without even leaving his room…”(Miller 81)? He dreams of being the man who does all of his business from his house and dies as a rich and successful man. Furthermore, Willy also dreams of moving to Alaska where he could work with his hands and be a real man. Biff and Happy follow in thei…

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… entire life, believes that he should be a great, well known, and well-liked salesman without ever really making a serious attempt at another occupation.

Willy Loman is a child trapped in a man’s body. He never lets go of his dreams. He does not come to grips with his failure as a salesman, father, and husband. Willy runs away from responsibility, and he asks others for handouts when in need, setting a bad example for his sons. Until the day he dies, Willy has delusions about the facts of his life. Willy never does grow up.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

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