The protagonist of Willy Loman in Arthur MillerÆs Death of a Salesman commits suicide because of self-loathing and the feeling that he is worth more dead than alive. These feelings stem from WillyÆs failed career as a salesman, one that was successful for a while but never allowed him or his family to achieve economic security and what Willy believes is their rightful piece of the American Dream. As such, Willy kills himself because the American Dream in which he believed is an illusion he fails to achieve in reality.
Willy Loman is at the end of a long career as a traveling salesman. His company has taken away his salary and he now works solely on commission. His commissions are few and far between, even though he travels 700 miles to try to earn them. He is forced to borrow money from his friend and tells his wife that it is his pay. His wife knows he has been trying to kill himself and his depression stems from feelings of despair and low self-wroth engendered from his belief that not being economically successful equates to failure as a human being. She knows the forces of his mind and job are overwhelming him. As she says of her husband, ôA small man can be just as exhausted as a great man,ö and that Willy is ôonly a little boat looking for a harborö (Miller, p. 76).
Willy is depressed and frustrated because his employer treats him like he is no longer needed or significant. He has worked for his company for decades but now that his former employerÆs son has taken over the company he offers Willy little compassion or loyalty. Willy is also beset by his troubles over money. He is making little to no money from his job, he must borrow from friends, and he is frustrated his sons have not amounted to anything. This is particularly true because he equates amounting to something as being rich or famous. We see his despair over his material items that take all his money but he ne