Popularity, Physical Appearance, and the American Dream in Death of a Salesman
For most, the American Dream is a sure fire shot at true happiness. It represents hope for a successful, fortune-filled future. Though most agree on the meaning of the American Dream, few follow the same path to achieving it. For struggling salesman Willy Loman, achieving this dream would mean a completely fulfilled existence. Unfortunately, Willy's simplistic ideas on how to accomplish his goal are what ultimately prevent him from reaching it.
Out of all of Willy's simplistic ideals, one major pattern we can notice is how Willy truly believes that popularity and physical appearance are what make people wealthy. We are first introduced to this idea when Willy is speaking to his wife, Linda, about their son Biff. "Biff Loman is lost," says Willy. "In the greatest country in the world, a young man with such personal attractiveness gets lost." In this quote, not only is Willy confused about how Biff's good looks can't help him get a job, but also because his son can't get a job in a country like America.
An example of how Willy depends on popularity to help achieve the dream is seen when Willy is having a flashback in which he's speaking to both Biff and Happy about having his own business. The boys ask their father if his business will be like their Uncle Charley's. Willy responds by saying that he'll be, "Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not- liked. He's liked, but he's not- well liked." From this example, it becomes evident that Willy thinks being "well liked" can make you successful.
The most significant example, however, is also one that takes place in one of Willy's flashbacks. Again, he is speaking to his sons about becoming successful. He tells them, "...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...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."
From these examples, it becomes very apparent that appearance and popularity are overly important to Willy when it comes to being successful in the business world.
As we can see from Willy's ideas of personal attractiveness, he doesn't seem to rely on hard work...