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Death of a Salesman: The Sons

In Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman and his sons Biff and Happy are all plagued by failure. Willy has fixated on imitating a successful salesman, Dave Singleman, who never had to leave his hotel room to make an abundance of sales and whose funeral was attended by many people. Willy sees being well liked as the key to achieving similar success. Encouraging his older son Biff to be well liked, Willy leads Biff to steal, which causes him to be fired from a long succession of jobs. Happy, Biff's younger brother, is largely ignored by his father throughout his life, as Willy has placed all of his dreams and expectations for success upon Biff. Happy is a relatively successful salesman, but he squanders his time and money on cars and women and has never moved up in the company. Arthur Miller has said of Willy Loman that "he cannot bear reality, and since he can't do much to change it, he keeps changing his ideas of it," which makes him "a bleeding mass of contradictions" (Miller & Bigsby xvi). Willy becomes a broken man who has lost touch with reality and who finally kills himself in an effort to provide his son with money to start a business with; unfortunately, the $20,000 insurance money that he believes will go to Biff is simply lost, because the insurance policy does not cover suicide. This paper will examine the two brothers to determine which one is most likely to fall into his father's fate and which might be redeemable.

Willy has trained Biff, in whom he has placed all of his hopes for success, to do the things that he believes bring success(gaining popularity and being a salesman. In reality, Willy has trained Biff to do the things that he himself has done(focusing on the superficial and ignoring the things that really count. Emphasizing looks and popularity, Willy says that "personality always wins the day" and neglects hard work and the other real components of success, such as reli...

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Death of a Salesman: The Sons. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:35, March 22, 2019, from