Illusion and Reality in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy is depicted as living in his own world. The play centers around the end of Willy’s life, when the real world comes crashing through, ruining the false reality he had created for himself and his family. Throughout the play, Willy Loman uses the concept of being well liked to build a false image of reality, as shown through his teachings to his son, what he considers successful, and his reasoning for committing suicide.
Willy teaches Biff the concept of being well-liked, reinforcing his own belief in the ideology and furthering his false sense of reality. "Willy Loman subscribes to this view and has taught his sons to believe not only in a success oriented society buy also in the notion that native personality is the key to success therein" (Dukore 17). "Willy tries to instil his ideal of being well liked in his sons" (Dukore 17). When telling his children about how successful he is going to be during his flashback, Willy tells them he is going to be "Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not liked. He’s liked, but he’s not well-liked" (Miller 30). "So long as Biff plays good football, wins games, gets his name in the newspapers and makes friends Willy thinks that he will succeed in life and carry on the jovial Loman tradition... Willy has staked his whole happiness on Biff’s success, but Biff is a failure" (Hurrell 55). Biff’s failure comes from the fact that once high school is over, nothing happens. Biff does not go on to be a great businessman or anything like that. Instead he goes from job to job, not making his fortune like Willy thought he would. This poked a hole in the world that Willy had presented to Biff and Happy.
Willy even convinced himself that being well liked was the key to a successful life, and chose to believe that he was well liked. "Like the legendary Dave Singleman, he wants to be well liked" (Dukore 21). "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" (Miller 33). Even...