Willy Loman: Victim of the American Dream
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman tells the tale of Willy Loman, a man who falls from the top of the capitalism system in a resonant crash. Being controlled by his fears of the future, and stuck in his memories of the past, Willy fully contributes to his self-victimization by putting little blame on his own mistakes. Although Willy is perceived as selfish, it is important to see that he is misguided. His character is one of a common man, he has never been anything special, but he chose to follow the American Dream and continue the “destiny” it gave him. However, in my reading of the play, I feel it was not an unlucky destiny that pushed Willy to damage his own life and the lives of his family, but rather the flawed source of dreams given for a good life. Willy, a man so consumed with ...view middle of the document...
In this case, Willy Loman is the believer, and Miller is confronting what destroyed him: capitalism, and the overall desire for wealth. When the repairs he has to make around the house enrage Willy, items such as the refrigerator and the different cars he’s had to buy further remind him of what’s needed to be done and continue to stress him out. “I’m always in a race with the junkyard: I just finished paying for the car and its on its last legs. The refrigerator consumes belts . . . They time those things . . . so when you finally paid for them they’re used up”[p. 73]. Willy has a constant effort to pay off the money he owes, while he may have this refrigerator, he doesn’t fully own it until he gets the money to pay for it.
Willy believes that wealth is the key to your happiness, and the extent of your wealth is exposed by the amount of materialistic items one has. Miller explains Willy’s thoughts in Timebends, “The publicity apparatus tells Willy that if he works hard like Edison, that if he perseveres like Goodrich, that, if he is “well-liked” like Dave Singleman, then he will rise like Charley and become rich and powerful.” Willy’s thought process is foolish, and his belief that failure cannot be tolerated in his family causes him to lie about his success. This is evident when Biff says “We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house! ” The American Dream is to blame for imprinting wealth is all you need to be happy, into Willy’s mind.
Willy’s obsession with success leads to the start of him living in his own fantasy world. He lives in the past, for there was hope for him then, but now he is completely subject to failure. Willy’s demise could have been avoided had he changed his dream, and had he not conformed to society. In the end his dream did not pay off, and he ultimately fell victim to the American Dream, and the deceitful ideals of freedom that factored into the dream.