Last Updated 10 Jan 2022

Death of a salesman on the American Dream

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The American dream has stood to be each person's idea of success. The American dream is usually associated with 1940's America depiction of the ideal family, as can be depicted from television shows such as Leave it to Beaver. However, this is one aspect and shallow analysis of the American dream that is not appropriate for all reaching to achieve their American dream. In Arthur Miller's Death ofa Salesman, Miller succeeds in portraying this through the characters Willy and Biff.

Their conflict represents two varying perspectives of the American dream, and this very struggle eads to the conclusion that the American dream is rooted in the pursuit of a better life. Throughout Death of a Salesman, Miller portrays two ideas of the American dreams and it is definite that they are "American dreams" as they both deal with success and that character's idea of success. Though, this is where characters' views differ and conflict with one another.

Willys American dream is to have his children succeed and to leave his imprint on the society which he was unable to succeed in doing so in a life long career as a salesman. Furthermore, Willy lived in the ideology that being well liked" was far more important and and necessary than being a Bernard type of person and make a living based on his studies. Willys belief and encouragement of this ideology upon his sons influenced Biff immensely. As a result, Biff did not put the effort into his studies that would have enabled him to pass math and graduate high school and move on to a university.

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Willy says, "Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here! " That's all they have to know and I go right through. " (Act 1) According to Willy, someone who is capable of invoking personal interest in those around them will be more successful regardless of one's knowledge or intelligence.

Biffs American dream is to free himself from the barriers of expectations, specifically those of his father. To free himself from his father's desired dream for him and move towards his own chosen life which is to live and own a ranch is the country. However, Biff only came to realize his dream later in his adult life as opposed to only pleasing is father as he did as a child. It was only after the calamity of discover his father's affair did Biff drift away from Willys expectations.

It is as he becomes resolute to follow his own dreams rather than his father's expectations he says, "Will you let me go, for Christ's sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens. " (Act 2) This statement come from his final conversation with his father as Biff shows his last attempt to show Willy the he is not the person he thought Biff would be. Nevertheless, it was fear of Biff defecting from becoming the ideal person Willy dreamed Biff would be that lead Willy to his downfall.

As well as the crumbling of Willys American dream for Biff. The final message of Death of a Salesman is that a person's American dream is whatever one perceives it means be successful. Fear of displacement from that Biff not becoming successful defined by Willys expectations for him, and such fear can destroy one's American dream. Had it not been for Willys insistence on Biff to follow his ideology and become his father's expectations, Biff would not have disregarded his studies and would have been able to graduate high school, and ecome successful in his own way.

Biffs American dream differs from that of the standard set by the"American dream" of 1940s America. The lifestyle viewed as being the family of an American citizen of that time would be a young man, a young woman, with three adorable children in the suburbs. However, Biff seems content with living like this, as the lifestyle depicted to be the goals of the American people are not suitable to him. The American dream depicted by the society of that time is Just one of many interpretations of the true American dream: the pursuit of a happy life.

Analysis of Biff in Death of a Salesman

Camilla Tanzi Year 12 An analysis of the character of Biff. Biff Loman is portrayed as the root of Willy’s mental illness and instability. He is also the only member of his family who acknowledges his own failures in life. On the whole, Biff Loman stands out as the most intriguing and strong character in “Death of a Salesman. He is not a successful man and never will be, he is however able to admit this, even in a harsh society as the one of the 1960s America. Biff knows he is a “nothing” and tries to make his father see that he is “no good.

I am a dime a dozen, Pop, and so are you. ” He begs for Willy to communicate with him and accept him for who he is. Although Willy is forced by Biff to see some of his own failures, he never accepts that Biff will turn out the same way. At the end of the play, Biff seems to have developed a strength of his own; he has faced and accepted the truth about himself and his father. Now that he acknowledges his problems, there is a hope that he will be able to reach his potential. If “Death of a Salesman” offers any hope, it is only through the character of Biff.

Also read: Expressionism in Death of a Salesman

Miller implies there is a chance that he will one day be able to live a normal life, away from the shadow of Willy Loman. Biff stimulates reactions out of his father’s lunacy and is portrayed as the main cause of Willy’s problems. We understand that Willy has been a bad influence on his son and in spite of this; he has big ambitions for Biff and does not want to admit that he will never reach the goals he wishes for him. Being Willy’s oldest son, Biff seems to be the perfect child to his father.

However, as the play develops and especially when it shifts from Willy’s dreams to the reality, we see a change in his attitude towards his son. When Biff was the star rugby player, the only thing that mattered to Willy was his success in the sport. As a matter of fact, when Bernard informs Willy and Biff about the possibility of him being “flunked in math”, Willy’s reply is stiff and arrogant: “Don’t be a pest, Bernard! (To his boys) What an anaemic! ” The use of the word “anaemic” is a perfect example to show what the man’s morals are; he considers Bernard a teenager who lacks vitality, boring.

The author could possibly be implying that Willy is actually envious of Bernard and even though he doesn’t want to admit it, his is just jealousy when he shows aversion towards him. Willy has different ambitions for his sons’ futures than most people had for theirs at the time; he believes that sport will be enough to help Biff succeed in the business world, make him rich and notorious; “That’s just what I mean, Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you’re going to be five times ahead of him. Arthur Miller provides us with a lot of evidence that Willy has been a bad influence on Biff. While Biff is in some ways desperate to impress his father, he is also conscious about the fact that Willy has failed his attempt to be successful in his career. He considers his dad’s dreams materialistic and unreachable. As a matter of fact, in the Requiem, even after his father’s death, Biff says: “He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong. ” Unlike Happy and Willy, Biff is self-aware and values facts; Willy never was a successful salesman and he never wanted to face the truth.

On the other hand, Biff is conscious about his failures and the weaknesses of his personality. During an argument with his father, Biff admits that his dad made him “so arrogant as a boy” that now he just can’t handle taking orders from a boss. I think this is what truly differentiates Biff from the rest of his family; he is honest and sincere about himself and would rather work on a ranch than try to be successful in a work field that he knows will never accept him. Biff is also the only character that acts as a reminder that the American Dream is not an every man’s dream.

Bernard has become a successful lawyer as his father Charley, Willy and Happy try to pretend they have too, but Biff is the only one who surrenders to his destiny. Rather than seeking success and money, he wants a basic life working on ranches. He does not try to push into the crowd of people aiming for a good job and a wealthy life-style, but instead wants to be seen for who he truly is: “Happy: The only thing is- what can you make out there? Biff: But look at your friend. Builds an estate and then doesn’t have the peace of mind to live in it. In a way, Miller is trying to tell us that Americans are made victims of the country’s success. “Death of a Salesman” seems to argue that America as a whole does not value people who look for simple pleasures such as working in the countryside, and the American Dream pushes people to only aim for jobs in the industry. It is ironic how Bernard turns out to succeed as a successful and well-known lawyer. It is ironic because during high school Willy used to mock him for studying hard and always praised Biff for not studying at all.

Bernard is presented as a weak and shy character and Miller wants us to believe that Biff will turn out to be successful rather than him and not the contrary. However, things turned out differently to how both Willy and Biff expected them to. Bernard’s success irritates Willy because his own sons’ lives do not measure up to Bernard’s: “(after a pause): I’m- I’m overjoyed to see how you made the grade Bernard, overjoyed. It’s an encouraging thing to see a young man really-really- Looks very good for Biff- very (He breaks off, then) Bernard- (He is so full of emotion, he breaks off again). Once again, Biff is the cause of his father’s despair; he does not want to pursue Willy’s dreams, he wants something other than material things from life, and this destroys the man. Biff has learnt from his father that to be “well-liked” and attractive are the most important ingredients for success. Up to now, I have only analysed the differences between Biff and Willy, however, it is also very important to highlight the few similarities between the two characters. When he was a teenage boy, Willy’s authority on Biff was evident.

We find that when the three Loman men are talking about Bernard, Biff echoes small bits of his father’s view on life when he says that his friend is “liked but not well-liked”. This implies that Biff once used to have respect towards Willy; he admired his strong personality and approved his view on the business world. Biff Loman is aware that he will not succeed as a salesman or any other job without his maths degree. On the other hand, his father is convinced he will and does not what to face the reality of facts. However, towards the end of the play we see a change in both the men’s attitudes.

As a matter of fact, they have switched opinions; “Biff: (horrified, gets down on one knee before Willy): Dad, I’ll make good, I’ll make good. (Willy tries to get to his feet. Biff holds him down. ) Sit down now. Willy: No, you’re no good, you’re no good for anything. ” Biff is now desperate and is obviously worried for his father’s mental health and tries to encourage him to be positive in any way he can- even if this involves lying to himself about his potential. As I previously mentioned in my introduction, Biff seems to be the only character that offers any hope whatsoever in “Death of a Salesman”.

At the beginning of the play, he tells the audience about his dreams of living in the south: “What the hell am I doing, playing around with horses, twenty-eight dollars a week! I’m thirty-four years old, I oughta be makin’ my future. That’s when I coming running home. And now, I get here, and I don’t know what to do with myself. ” This clearly shows that biff aspires to better things, but does not know what to do in an industrial city as New York. He wants to succeed and build a future, but at the same time he enjoys the pleasures of living in the countryside and not having any stress.

Here is where we understand that Biff is fundamentally lazy. He would like to have a nice and wealthy life, but he just does not have the strength or the motivation to work for it. On the whole, through the illusions that Willy believes, he cannot see Biff as a “nobody” and cannot accept that he won’t be successful as he hopes. Eventually, Biff finally sees the truth and realises that he is “no great leader of men”. He also comprehends the delusions that Willy lived on. Biff is destined to no greatness, but he no longer has to struggle to understand what he wants to do with his life; “I know who I am, kid. ”

Biff Loman's Role in Death of a Salesman

Biff Loman may not be the “Salesman” in Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, The Death of a Salesman, but he is the main character of the play. The character known as Biff Loman is at the root of his immediate family’s internal dilemmas and inner conflicts. Biff’s essence is what motivates the men in his family to choose the path that they take in life. For this reason, even when Biff is not present in a particular scene, he is still omnipresent because of his invisible pull on the actions and feelings of his family members whom he had impacted throughout the years.

The play finds Biff Loman at age 34, while his younger brother Happy is 32. Growing up, Happy was influenced greatly by his older brother. This is common in most young boys, especially when they are this close in age. Happy was eyewitness to the arrogant and womanizing behaviors of his elder brother, Biff during their youth. Happy saw the way Biff behaved during high school and witnessed the positive feedback that he received from both his peers and his father as a result of his behavior, which was less than exemplary.

Happy saw Biff skate through his teenage years living in this manner. Biff got the attention from their father that Happy had yearned for. The stage was set for Happy to attempt to emulate Biff’s womanizing, unscrupulous actions during his own life. Happy became a womanizer on a level which even exceeded Biff’s promiscuous behavior during his youth. Happy often found himself sleeping with his boss’s wives, girlfriends and fiances. He couldn’t even understand why he did it.

It was simply an instinct which was engrained in him after spending his impressionable years so close to Biff, even sharing a bedroom with him during this time. Willy Loman, himself, was obsessed with his eldest son. During Biff’s prime of life, Willy found happiness by living vicariously though his son. Poor Happy was hardly noticed by his father who was so wrapped up in Biff. Willy believed that he would find all his dreams that were never realized finally seen through by Biff. He thought Biff would succeed in college and find the successful career that Willy himself was never fortunate enough to have.

All of Willy’s hopes and dreams were wrapped up in this one boy and when Biff failed to live up to them, Willy felt that failure just as deeply as he felt the let-down of his own unfulfilled life. To make matters worse, even though Willy did not admit it, he knew that he, himself was to blame for Biff’s downfall. Willy never pushed Biff to do the right thing in life. He chuckled when Biff stole from his football coach and was proud of his son when Biff made his friends clean the family’s basement. Biff said to his father, “I think I’ll have them sweep out the furnace room” to which Willy replied, “Good work, Biff. (Miller 1192) Willy’s wife, Linda, had warned him about Biff being rough with the girls and this, too, was shrugged off . Linda said, “He’s too rough with the girls, Willy. All the mothers are afraid of him. ” Willy replied, “Shut up……There’s nothing the matter with him! …. He’s got spirit, personality…. ” (Miller 1195) Willy felt that Biff already possessed all the qualities needed in order to be successful in life, so there was no need to offer guidance to his son or punish his missteps along the way.

This was a parenting strategy that Willy would later live to regret. The paramount of Willy’s guilt was the fact that Biff caught him in a hotel room with a woman with whom he was having an affair. Willy made up ridiculous excuses to cover the fact that this woman was in his hotel room naked. He tells his son, “Biff, she’s a buyer. They’re painting her room…. She lives down the hall - they’re painting. ” (Miller 1240) Biff saw through to the truth of the matter, though. He yells at his father, saying “Don’t touch me, you - liar! (Miller 1241) Biff was so crushed by the realization that his father was not the family man whom he had idolized that he did not even bother to make up the math course that he had to complete that Summer in order to graduate. This one small action threw away his chances at attending college. The immense guilt that Willy felt as a result of his son discovering his infidelity is at the core of play’s plot. This guilt and attempted absolution is what ultimately leads to the death of Willy Loman. Willy is attempting suicide in order to finally make things right with Biff.

He wants his first born son to collect twenty thousand dollars from a life insurance policy. Willy, who has his own identity so wrapped up in Biff, feels that Biff will become successful with this money and therefore Willy’s legacy will be one of achievement and success in life. Willy is so convinced of this idea being a reality, that he is willing to throw his earthly life away for a chance at an afterlife view of his own dreams being carried through his son, Biff. This makes Biff the lead character in the play. Bibliography; Only the actual play is refererenced in this report.

Reflection Essay on Death of a Salesman

"The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything -- or nothing. " -- Lady Nancy Astor. The quote states that it can be dangerous when an individual wants to change nothing about themselves of their life or everything. An individual’s loss of identity and incapability to change within himself and society can be very dangerous. The play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a collaboration of memories, dreams, confrontation and arguments with one self. When an individual is in denial of his own life or others and refuses to accept change, it harms not only them but their family as well.

Similarly, when one is unable to make up their mind, they are very contradictory and unsure of their own life. Also, for one to be successful their mind needs to be set and they must adjust themselves and should be familiar with order versus disorder. In the play, every single member of the Loman family is in denial or preserves a continuous cycle of denial for others. Willy Loman, the man and father of the family cannot accept the fact that he is a mediocre salesman. Instead Willy has a vision of his own American dream of success even if he has to deny reality in order to accomplish it.

Throughout the play, Willy does not realize that he is not a well-known and successful salesman, and he lives in past memories and events of his life which he is perceived as successful. For example, Willy's favourite memory of the past is Biff's last football game because Biff swears that he will make a touchdown just for him. This particular scene of the past in the play, Willy is excited and cannot wait to tell his buyers and friends. He considers himself famous and successful as a result of his son's pride.

Willy's two sons, Biff and Happy, acquire Willy's habit of denying or manipulating reality with time and practice it all of their lives. It is not until near the end of the play that Biff admits he has been a "phony" too, just like Willy and he is not the person he thinks he is or his father thinks he is. Linda, the mother in the family is the one character who realizes that her family lives in denial. Nevertheless, she goes along with all of Willy's fantasies and “phony” dreams in order to uphold his fragile mind.

Contradiction plays an important part throughout the play as Willy's mind is filled with inconsistencies and he contradicts him self often. From the very start, Willy reveals this habit of his. He labels his son Biff as a "lazy bum" but then a mere second later in his dialogue he contradicts himself when he says, "And such a hard worker. There's one thing about Biff — he's not lazy. " Willy's inconsistent mind is the result of his incapability to accept reality and re-create the past as an excuse to escape the present.

For example, Willy cannot accept that Biff no longer respects him because of Willy's affair. Rather than admit that their relationship with each other took wrong paths and they should try their best to make it better, Willy goes into the past to a previous time in his life when Biff had respect for him and admired him. As the play goes further on, Willy removes him self more and more from the present and puts his self in the past he has too many problems to deal with. Similarly, order versus disorder also plays a major theme in the play and results from Willy's retreats into the past.

Every time Willy lives in the past, he does so to deny and forget the present, especially if he is not being able to accept the present at all. Throughout the play, Willy spends more and more time in the past as to retain order in his life. The more disastrous the reality, the more necessary it is for Willy to change it, even if it means for him to live in the past. For example, immediately after Howard fires Willy, Ben appears, and Willy says "nothing's working out. I don't know what to do. " Ben quickly changes the topic of the conversation to Alaska and offers Willy a job.

Linda appears as well and persuades Willy that he should stay in sales, just like his role model, Dave Singleman. Willy's confidence quickly recovers, and he is sure that he made the right decision by turning down Ben's offer to go to Alaska as he is certain he will be a success like Singleman. Therefore, distracting Willy from the reality of losing his job. Denial, contradiction, and the journey of order versus disorder contain the play, Death of a Salesman. Order versus disorder in the play gives Willy a chance to get away from him self and sense of reality.

Similarly, Willy contradicts himself throughout the play to distract himself from reality as he does not realize it. Thirdly, Willy lives in denial of his own life as he only wishes to accomplish the American Dream. Willy's situation is not different: Everyone makes mistakes that change their relationship with the people they love and when all of their attempts to fix their mistake fail, they give it a one final chance to correct the mistake. Bibliography: "death of a salesman" - arthur miller

Essay On A Death Of A Salesman Analysis

“Death of a Salesman” is a play written by playwright, Arthur Miller. This play is believed to have been one of Arthur Miller’s greatest body of work in the theatrical realm. “Death of a Salesman” was written from the trials of the playwright’s own life experience making for an relatable story filled with both direct and indirect symbolism about how the idea of success and achievement can drive an individual to do things they never believed they were able to do, with the flip side to that also is the narrative of how fear and failure impacts humans as well.

“There’s more people! That’s what’s ruining this country! The competition is maddening!” (Act 1) Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” revolves around the Loman family in which the main character Willy Loman, the father, works as a door to door salesman. In many respects the Loman’s appear to be what we would consider in today’s society to be a middle-class family. Often times the middle-class is viewed as having the economic means to provide the essentials required to cultivate and sustain a family, however the downside to that reality is that often times those same individuals struggle accepting that fact that they are not able to live their life to the same extent as those who are financially secure.

Yet, like many who find themselves in the middle-class of socio-economic ranking, Willy Loman fed into society’s perception in which the only logical means of advancing through the ranks and breaking the cycle of middle-class label would be by ensuring that he was well liked and deemed attractive by his peers. The drawback of this belief, was that the Lomans’ live an unfulfilled and unhappy life while they believed their neighbors and peers were reaping the benefits of their success. “When I was seventeen, I walked into the jungle. And by twenty-one, I walked out. And by God, I was rich!” (Miller, 49).

Have you ever felt as though no matter how hard you tried to ccomplsih For example, have you ever wondered how certain career advancements and promotions don’t always go to the individual who is more qualified, but rather to the individual who is deemed to be likeable? That kind of disappointment could push a person to betray anyone if it meant achieving what is deemed as success.

“You don’t understand. Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life....” A benefit that Willy had in his arsenal was that he was afforded the opportunity to have a friend like Charley. We all at one point or another have or had a friend who was similar to Charley, someone who we viewed as successful. The real question is whether we are appreciative of these friends with pure intentions who come into our life? In many society’s it is rare that the people who are successful are the most giving and the most generous. I believe Arthur Miller was able to symbolize this sort of connection by highlighting the generosity of Charley while revealing Willy’s insecurities.

Willy was blessed to have a friend in Charley who was willing help him in every conceivable way he could, from offering Willy money as a way of offsetting the pay he was not receiving from his sales job, to directly offering him a job. However as with most individuals, they tend to shy away from help in efforts to not appear weak or unworthy by their peers.

“Now listen, Willy, I know you don’t like me, and nobody can say I’m in love with you, but I’ll give you a job because—just for the hell of it, put it that way. Now what do you say?” Additionally, jealously began to overtake Willy as he begins to despise Charley and his family for the blessing that they have earned. Bitter about his own shortcoming in life, Willy feels as though Charley was not sincere.

In conclusion, Arthur Miller uses symbolism in the play to echo the trials and tribulations of the Loman’s. I believe Miller used this tool as a way to add levity to the circumstances that many of us face to this very day; highlighting how more often than not we are the ones who sabotage our own dreams by allowing our minds to cast doubt and angst. The concept of the obtain the “I believe that if the reader pays close attention to the symbolism used, then one can avoid the self pitfalls and be able to live a fulfilled and worthy life.

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