Literary Analysis on Death of a Salesman, Free Essay Example

Published: 2018-02-01
Literary Analysis on Death of a Salesman, Free Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Analysis American literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1449 words
13 min read


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The death of a salesman is a 1949 play which was authored by Arthur Miller. The storyline of this text spins around the last twenty-four hours of the main character, Willy Loman, before his death. Willy was a salesman who had a tragic life due to his flaws; he had failed as a worker in his jobs, failed as a father as witnessed by son Biff hatred to him, and his dream had crushed. At age sixty-three, Willy had already lost hope in life, and he had no reason why he should continue living. Based on the storyline of the play, it appears that he committed suicide to end his tragic life. Many literature analysts have suggested that Willy is responsible for his death, because of his flaws, and not the society or his family. This paper thus will analysis the play, Death of a Salesmen, to evaluate how Willy Loman shortcomings were responsible for his death.

Flaws of Willy Loman

Arthur Miller primary intention in this play is to present Willy as a person who is overcrowded with personal weaknesses that he cannot even overcome. Some of these shortcomings include dishonesty to his loving wife, Linda, by having a guilty relationship with Miss Frances and being a bad example to his sons. He also has false pride, jealous, and pursue a wrong philosophy of life. The general effect of these shortcomings is the one which leads him to commit suicide. These weaknesses can be summarized to two main flaws which clearly demonstrated that they lead him to his death.

Inability to Face Reality

Willy Loman is a person who cannot face the reality of life. The author of this play gives the narrations from Willy’s mind in two phases. On one side, he presents Willy status of life as at the year 1928, when he was youthful and whole of optimism for the forthcoming life. On the other phase, he presents a story of Willy in 1942, as the same man with the same dream, but the difference now is that he was frustrated for not attaining the goals. Such presentation thus gives a perception that Willy did not change or adapt to the reality surrounding him, and that explain why he stuck with the old dreams which he knew were not achievable to him any longer. His inability to face reality thus lead him to commit several mistakes, as outlined below, which resulted in a more frustrating life.

Losing of Opportunities

First, this inability made him miss several opportunities which would have changed his life positively. He misses a chance to join his brother Ben in Alaska, where he would have made a great fortune, because of the poor perception that he had a great chance at Wagner firm. He could not face the truth that Wagner Company did not offer any future promises to him; thus he squandered the Alaska opportunity. Willy also loses another big chance of making a fortune with Charley. Charley had offered to work together with him after he was fired, but he rejected the offer as he believed he was better than Charles. Willy could not perceive that his friend was doing much great than him, and thus he clung to the old perception that he was still the greatest among the two. Such poor thinking that made him have false pride which lowered his chances to succeed.

Having False Illusions

Willy imperfect reality of life also resulted to false illusions that destroyed his life. He believed that he would make a great salesperson thus becoming a success story. He had useful information about the success of a salesman named Dave Singleman, and thus he thought that he would be equity successful. Such preoccupation of false illusion about life thus made him not pursue what was real. The worst thing about Willy is that he had too many illusions which even lead him to give up in fighting for the reality.

Losing Self-Recognition

Lack of fact also leads Willy to lose his own recognition. One key factor to each person success is knowing what is right for them. However, those people that live a life without having a self-recognition are likely to be less successful as they choose the wrong path of life. This is well demonstrable through Willy, who has an unfortunate direction of his life. Since young, Willy never thought of a perfect career for himself. He was preoccupied with an ideal world, rather than a real world, and thus he never took a chance to think of what was good for himself.

For example, Willy never gave an opportunity to a career like carpentry, and yet will are informed he was great in fixing things at home. His family has a great regard for what Willy has done for them at the house, which held a lot of their memories. Willy conducted all work done at the house, in what the author describe as, with excellent skills and much ease. He was even more successful at home compared to Wagner firm and sales job. However, lack of reality could not give Willy a chance to recognize this; he held on to false dreams like being a successful merchant that at the end did not pay off.

False Values

Willy's another major imperfection that leads him to commit suicide was his false value. An unrealistic world may have preoccupied him, but even inside that world, he still could not do things in the right manner. Some of these false values include his perception about business, pride, and authority.

False Values on Running a Business

According to Willy, business is all about making an appearance, having a personal interest, and being ahead of others. What he in was that profit was the only thing that made business relevant as it made him achieve the above values. When taking to his son Biff he tells him that “the man who does an impression in the business world, the man who builds personal interest, is the man who gets success” (Miller, 25). Such statements thus demonstrate that the value of Willy as far as business is the concern were misguided. In business, there are other important things like hardworking, skills, and work experiences which make people successful. Willy had no such values, and that explains why he failed so badly in his salesman career.

False Value about Personal Pride

Willy also takes personal pride in the wrong way, which make him not a practical person. He believes in himself too much and does not like to be perceived as weak by other people. One place where he demonstrates his false value on pride was during a conversation with Howard.

“Howard: This is no point of false pride, Willy. You go to your sons and inform them that you’re exhausted.

Willy: I can’t surrender myself on my sons, I’m not a disabled” (Miller, 66).

This excerpt points that Willy had false values on the idea of pride which lowered his chances of teamwork and combined efforts. If he were a man with good values on his personal pride, maybe he would have accepted the job that Charley offered to him after he was fired. With a new job, he would still have some hope for future thus restraining from committing suicide.

False Value about Authority

Willy also was wrong on who could or could not give him orders. In his life since he was young, he always believed that he would be a “Big Shot” and thus did not need anyone to order him around. Willy also teaches his sons, Biff and Happy, on how to be independent and not taking orders from others because such characters lower their values. Willy thus over time, he created a lot of enemies as people thought he was disgusting. This can be will explained by the absence of co-works and other friends in his funeral.


In conclusion, the above exegesis has presented an analysis of the play Death of a Salesmen to evaluate how Willy Loman shortcomings were responsible for his death. It has been revealed that Willy had the inability to face reality which made him lose golden opportunities, lack self-recognition, and have false illusions. He also had false values which lead him to poor business practice, false pride, and false perception of authority. It is the resolution of this paper that, all these flaws made Willy lose hope about life, and thus they caused him to commit suicide. They, therefore, made will responsible for his own death.

Work Cited

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman: Revised Edition. Penguin, 1996.

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