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Willy Loman As A Father In Arthur Miller's A Death Of A Salesman

1298 words - 5 pages

Willy Loman as a Father in Arthur Miller's A Death of a Salesman

Modern society would condemn the parenting skills of Willy Loman, the
father in Arthur Miller’s A Death of a Salesman, who imposes his
dreams upon his two sons and preaches the value of popularity over
integrity.

As an unsuccessful salesman, Willy is unable to cope with his own
shortcomings and valiantly attempts to find something to be hopeful
for, and he finds this opportunity in his son Biff. Frail and well
past his prime, Willy feels that he is incapable of ever getting back
on his feet, and so he believes Biff has a better chance at success.
However, Willy steps over the boundary, and he develops into a father
attempting to control his own son’s life. In one instance, Biff comes
home to recollect, and Willy vows, “I’ll see him in the morning. I’ll
have a nice talk with him. I’ll get him a job selling. He could be
big in no time” (6). These expectations, though, are contrary to
Biff’s desires and dreams, since he aspires to work in the outdoors.
For Biff, the job of becoming a salesman entails one “to suffer fifty
weeks of the years for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you
really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off” (11). Thus the
difference in desire between father and son leads to conflict,
especially because Willy is stubborn and unwilling to yield to his
son’s ingenuous ideas. Biff is first to realize that his own passions
are not synonymous to his dad’s, and in a heated confrontation prior
to Willy’s death, Biff shouts, “What am I trying to become what I
don’t want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a
contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there,
waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am!” (105). Willy’s
ignorance of Biff’s enlightenment shows the full extent of his
limitations and is also the reason for his own downfall. At the same
time, by forcing his lofty ambitions onto Biff, Willy overlooks and
neglects his other son, Happy. Willy is simply caught up in the plans
and dreams for his older and more favorite son, and in order to be
acknowledged by Willy, Happy become exactly like his father—attempting
to acquire wealth and popularity over integrity and dignity.
Convinced that this method is the best solution, Happy assimilates his
father’s poor perspective on the world, and in the end he realizes
that he is truly not happy. Happy lives his entire life in a way that
he believes will bring him attention from his father, yet he becomes
more miserable than before. In today’s age, seeing an older child
favored over other siblings is common, but it fosters antagonism
between the less favored son and his father. For example, at the
restaurant, Happy refuses to recognize his father’s existence, noting
to the girls he has picked up around,...

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