Willy has dreams constantly through the play death of a salesman. As the play develops so do Willys mental health problems and the script gets more and more complicated mirroring Willys brain. We learn Willy has an obsession with achieving the American Dream and his key dreams all relate to this. As he did not achieve the American Dream he also wants his sons to and so dreams back to pastimes normally points in his childrens life where misfortunes or opportunities occur.
Willy is a very materialistic man and many dreams go back to big things, which he has either bought or stolen, he sees this a good point in his life and this is why his dreams constantly refer to this. As soon as the play starts Willy dreams back to the time when he as well as his two sons are cleaning the car. Readers can tell Willy adores this memory as he says remember those days as if longing for them back and maybe wishing he lived in the past. Even right at the beginning of the play we can tell Willy is very confused and mentally ill Thats funny? I coulda sworn I was driving that Chevvy today pointing out again that he gets confused between the present and the past.
When Willy is talking to Linda on page 24 we see once again a certain theme in the present causing Willy to have a memory from the past, even when he is having a conversation in the present. Music often symbolises there is going to be a flashback or a dream. On page 24 this also happens and laughter is heard which confuses Willy with what has happened in the past, however this time Willys dream reminds him of a bad time where he was having an affair this leads him to feel very guilty and angry at himself he then takes the anger out on Linda which again makes him feel angry with himself so a viscous circle is created. After his dreams seem to come quicker and quicker with Willy having another dream just a page after and also again the dream is of bad yet prominent times in his life time. If he doesnt buckle down hell flunk math! This dream connotes to us that Willy lives through his childrens successes as he feels he has failed himself.
Dreams again show us later in the play that Willy feels he has failed in life as he dreams back to times when he was offered job opportunities which turned out to be very good, but he declines and still regrets this. This dream is repeated throughout the play as Willy feels it was a very bad time in his life and this is why his dreams always point back to these moments.
Once again Willys is shown to be a supporter of the American Dream but a corrupt man as he teaches his boys to steal as they do in later life. Boys go right over there to where there building apartments and get some sand This shows us Willy is a poor man but still wants to live in a house that looks good and is prepared to do illegal things and have these habits copied by his boys. In act two when Willy is happy and nothing bad has gone wrong he doesnt tend to go into his episodes of dreams he is also a lot nicer to Linda and the boys when he is happy. When Willy is talking to Howard on page 55 he gets very stressed and this leads him to go into a flashback where he thinks Howard is Howards dad, he starts talking to who he thinks is Howards dad this eventually leads to him being sacked as Howard thinks he is un fit to work. During this episode Willy becomes very confused and cannot tell the difference between the past and the present.
Willy then goes on to have a flashback where Ben is persuading him to go to Alaska and Bernard is with Biff back when Biff was a football star. This is a very long dream.
I feel that Willys most significant turning point in the play is the scene in the restaurant with Biff and Happy where Willy cannot tell the difference between the past and the present and the boys find this very embarrassing and end up leaving him there. We cannot tell much about Willys character from now on in the play as he is so confused and this is really all it shows as his character becomes more and more confused and delusional as the play goes on so that you cannot actually tell if you are in the past or present and neither can Willy.
From Willys dreams in the play Death of a salesman we see Willys character becoming more and more confusing throughout the script. He seems to go into dreaming periods when he is stressed sad or confused he also gets pushed into dreams by things that remind him of significant things from the past for example stockings and a womans laughter constantly knock him back to dreams of his affair. The dreams contribute to Willys metal health and make him very un-happy which eventually leads him to end his life.