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Character Representations in Death Of A Salesman Essay


In Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman represents the American dream. He is the living metaphor for all that everyone with this dream want to accomplish and has fought to accomplish. Willy is a man with strong family values and regrets; he is portrayed as a hardworking man making an honest living while battling with his inner demons in self destructive ways. He creates an illusion and idea of himself that is not true to who he really is. Willy comes to terms with reality when he realizes that he failed to achieve what he fought so hard to go after.

Willy Loman has been such a compelling character in American literature and drama because of the symbolism that his life and his family stand for. It is really something that everyone in this country can identify with one way or another, everyone fights for what they believe in their heart is right. His life displays all the physical, emotional, and mental strife that people go through in order to provide for themselves as well as their families while struggling to maintain their sanity and dignity. People need something to look forward to, and even though that dream may not be what everyone else aggress with, at least this person is able to have something to grasp and guide him in his path towards being meaningful.

Willy Loman can be classified as a tragic hero and an everyman. Everyone has their dreams and hopes, some may accomplish them, and some may not and find themselves entwined with self pity and unstable reasoning. Looking at this perspective, a tragic hero is someone who fights for something that they believe in. This person goes about it doing what ever they can in their power to protect themselves as well as the ones that they care for, and in the end this person is destroys themselves with this dream that they fought so hard to create. Willy fought to maintain stability in his life and went about the wrong way to resolve his problems; he is the American tragic hero because of what his life symbolized. Happy says; Im staying right in this city, and Im gonna beat this racket...Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. Its the only dream you can have-to come out number one man. He fought it out here, and this is where Im gonna win it for him (Death of a Salesman 138-139). The American dream is a dangerous dream to pursue, it can either come out one of two ways, successful and accomplished or a great demise will be met from trying to make something of nothing.

Willy Loman is an everyman, because everyone has that one dream that they wake up every morning for and hope to be one step closer to reaching that one goal. A mans experiences mold him into what he becomes but not what society labels him as. Every man has their own way of dealing with crisis; I simply call Willy Loman Willy Loman.

A little framed house on a street of little framed houses (162) to Arthur Miller was the inspiration for the play. The setting of the play represents how hard it is to want and have the American dream, the year that the play takes place in shows the degree of importance that this ideal had and still have on people today. Its the image of the house with the white picket fence.

Each character in this play represents something. Biff represents the all American high school kid who has it all. People have this mentality that when someone has a talent it will take care of itself, but if you dont work towards something you want, it will never make its way to you. If you dont work for something you will never get it.

Bernard is the hard working person who sets his mind to something, stays focused, and goes after it. He is the successful lawyer with a past of being harassed by school mates for wanting better in life. He is the kid that no one thought would make it because he wasnt doing what everyone else was doing. This character helps us to understand how society thinks. We as a species are very shallow and most of the time we rely solely on talent and reputation to have the dream that we want. We tend to rely on social stratification in order to be somebody. Happy is the kid that just goes through life like a wave. He goes wherever life takes him. Instead of having control over his life, life has control over him. He is laid back and puts up with life the best way he knows how. Howard is daddys little boy, he is the one everything came easy for, he acts like the type of person who forgets about his past when he makes something of himself.

Arthur Miller presents young people in the different characteristics that exist, he show us the different ways that people go by to have this thing called the American dream, everyone goes about it in their own ways. This is prevalent today in our society; everyone has different backgrounds from which they grew up. Some may have to work harder then others just to fit into the category of the American dream. Arthur Miller defines the meaning behind the American dream and all that comes with it as failure, hard work, hopes, success, happiness and self-destruction. The American dream is to be able to lead a life of satisfaction and happiness; its the emotional gain that really has significance, not the material things that come with it. At the end of the day when you need someone to show you compassion, you cant turn to your perfect house and car for love and affection, because I assure you they wont give you anything in return.

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