Betrayal in Death of a Salesman

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The Betrayal That Led to the Downfall of A Dream

In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller utilizes the theme of betrayal as a way to draw a parallel to the downfall of how the Loman family perceives “The American Dream”. Willy Loman believes in “The American Dream” and is constantly striving to live by it. Willy is a very insecure salesman who is unable to provide financial support for his family. He imagines that “The American Dream” stands on the pillars of being well liked and aesthetically appealing to those who he surrounds himself with. It is unclear to him that as a salesman, that he must be able to sell the product as well as his personality. Willy believes that success and goals of “The American Dream” are easily obtainable and refuses to accept that due to his betrayal to his wife, his sons, and himself, no hard-work was done to go about living in the American way that he had always pictured in his mind.

Betrayal is a word that is never used throughout the play, but it is constantly shown through the actions and thoughts of the characters that ultimately lead to the failures and misfortunes of Willy’s diminishing life. It is unclear to Willy that through the constant pushing of his family to be successful and wealthy, he starts to lose himself and becomes unaware of his family’s unhappiness, because success does not always equal bliss.

The first time that betrayal becomes apparent in the story is in the beginning of the play when Willy’s two sons, Happy and Biff come home to live with them for the time being. Willy is constantly speaks highly of his son Biff throughout the play and admires all of the achievements that he has accomplished in his high school years. Willy is also always pushing Biff to be the best that he can and motivates him to be as successful as possible because that is the only way they will be able to live happy lives. Although Willy is so thrilled to have a son who he loves so much and continues to praise, in reality, Biff is...
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