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The Importance Of A Dream In Death Of A Salesman, By Arthur Miller

1615 words - 7 pages

To have a fulfilling life, one must have a dream. However, with the wrong dream, even a fulfilling life is not a happy one. For example in the play, Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, the protagonist, Willy Loman, dreams of becoming a respected and successful salesman. However, Willy Loman dreams the wrong dream and as a result its leads to his tragic demise. This is evident through Willy’s dream being unrealistic, Biff's troubles due to Willy instilling his dream into him, Willy's pride resulting from his dream, and the illusion that Willy’s dream creates. As a result, the fabricated life that Willy thought was perfect, ultimately falls apart as it turns into reality.
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This is clear when Willy confesses, "But I gotta be at it ten, twelve hours a day. Other men-I don't know-they do it easier. I don't know why - I can't stop myself-I talk too much"(Miller 37). It is evident that Willy must work harder than the average salesman because he is not talented at selling. To compensate for his lack of skill, he tries to be overly likable and as a result, appears unprofessional. Willy doesn’t understand that one needs to be respected rather than well liked in the business world. Consequently, Willy’s skewed perception of image, in combination with his lack of talent, deters Willy from achieving his dream.
Willy’s diluted view of maintaining a likable image not only makes his dream unrealistic but also creates the pride that ultimately leads to his downfall. Since Willy is unable to achieve his dream, he fabricates a persona in which he is the successful salesman that he strives to be. This is shown when Willy boasts, “"And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ‘cause one thing , boys: I have friends"(Miller 31). Throughout the play, Willy exaggerates his abilities and popularity as a salesman. However, in reality, Willy is not as successful as he depicts and his only friend is his neighbour, Charlie. This overconfident view of himself causes him to believe that he is a good salesman and therefore avoids any engagement that would suggest otherwise. For this reason, Willy never accepts the fact that he is a bad salesman and does not take a job even when he desperately needs one. This is evident when Charlie says, “I offered you a job, you can make fifty dollars a week. And I won’t send you on the road”(Miller 96). Despite the fact that Willy wants a job that he can commute to from home, is borrowing fifty dollars every week from Charlie and has just been fired, he does not take a job from him because Willy would rather keep his pride, than acknowledge the harsh reality that he is a failure. By taking Charlie’s job, Willy would be able to pay off his debts, but at the same time would throw away his dream. Therefore to conserve his dream, his pride become his hubris that prompts him to take the drastic actions that end up destroying his life.
Willy’s pride not only causes him to overlook his own flaws but also the flaws of his son, Biff Loman. Willy devoutly believes that Biff is destined for greatness and as a result does not prepare him for failure. Rather, Willy prepares him for the future that is unrealistic like his dream. Willy teaches Biff that all one needs to succeed in the business world is to be well liked and completely neglects the importance of hard work and skill. This is clear when examining Willy’s view of Bernard in which he says, "Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him....

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