Good Looking And Popularity In Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller

1173 words - 5 pages

Nowadays, people are concentrating more and more on good looks and likeability because it gives them confidence, and often, these traits come with money and power. In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller portrays the life of a salesman, Willy, who values the superficial quality of likeability and attractiveness over learning. He is obsessed with the idea of being well-liked which ultimately takes him nowhere. His son unfortunately follows that principle and ends up with an unhappy life. Many events that happen in this play reflect on a principle that being popular is not the only thing one needs to have in order to gain respect and be successful in life. Truth is that hard work without complaint is the key to success.

“Someday I’ll have my own business, and I’ll never have to leave home anymore/Bigger than Uncle Charlie! Because Charley is not-liked. He is liked, but he is not well-liked” (1244). This quote shows how Willy uses popularity as a measurement to one success in life. He believes that his son will be more successful in the future because he is more well-like than Uncle Charlie. Willy uses this ideal as a foundation for his entire life and clearly this belief has also transfer to his son. “Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand…Because the men 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” (1246). Willy discredits Bernard learning abilities and puts the popularity matters above everything else which is ironic because Bernard hard work pays off as a successful business when Biff is going nowhere with the popularity he has in high school. This quote further emphasizes Willy only interest is popularity and physical appeal which later one of a cause that contributes to his personal failure. Upon realizing success is not measured by how popular one can be, Willy kills himself. In the funeral, Linda questions “Why didn’t anybody come?/ But where are all the people he knew? May be they blame him” (1297). Perhaps, this is a prove to how Willy has been living in his own illusion of being well known for his whole life. At the end, despite being well-liked earlier in life, none of his business friends or customers attends the funeral, perhaps business is business and there is no personal feeling in it like the way Willy thinks it would be.

Willy has also influenced his son by giving and enforcing the concept of being popular when they were really young. He pays more attention to Biff popularity as a football player but not to his learning. Ultimately, that one thing Willy does not value is the reason for Biff failure in life. Early in the play, this ideal is reinforced by Happy when he tries to convince Biff to talk to an old friend to get the job. “I bet he’d back you. ‘Cause he thought highly of you, Biff. I mean they all do. You’re well liked, Biff. That’s why I say to come back here” (1242). Even when Biff failure is already...

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