Catcher in the Rye, Macbeth and Death of a Salesman Comparison Essay

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In literature, characters often confront challenges and due to their misconceptions of reality these challenges become complicated by external factors, which ultimately lead to tragic results. Willy, from the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Holden, from the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and Macbeth, from the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, live with false perceptions of life and struggle through life's challenges. Willy struggles with the challenges of his life by lying, causing him to suffer because of how he defines success. Holden is upset with the world and tries to become a savior to future generations. While Macbeth's ambitions dominates his life resulting in an inflated ego transforming him from an honorable soldier into a crazed tyrant. When faced with challenges, these characters fight to be who they imagine they are, yet due to conflicts they ultimately fail. One problem Willy has is that he does not take responsibility for his actions; this problem only gets worse because of his lies. Biff looks up to Willy, so when he finds out that Willy has an affair in Boston, Biff is petrified. Biff realizes his hero, dad, the one he wants to impress, is a phony and a liar. Willy destroys Biff's dream of playing football by saying he does not have to study for the math regents, he also Willy telling Bernard to give Biff the answers. When Biff fails the regents, he does not want to retake the test because he is so disgusted with his hero and does not want to succeed. Not only did Willy destroy Biff's dream, he also broke his vows and refused to admit it. Biff is a failure, in Willy's eye, in most part due to Willy and what happened in Boston. Willy refuses to take responsibility for what he did, so he lies about Biff. Willy tells Bernard that Biff has been doing great things out west, but decided to come back home to work on a "big deal". Willy knows that Biff is a bum who has not amounted to anything, but he refuses to take responsibility for what happened in Boston, so he changes the story of Biff's success. Throughout Willy's life he continued to lie. It might have stopped if Linda did not act the way as she did. Linda is afraid to confront Willy, so she goes along with his outlandish lies. For instance, Willy lies about how much money he makes and Linda accepts it, even though she knows the truth. Linda knows that Willy gets money from Charlie, but she pretends it is Willy's doing so to keep his confidence level up. Willy lies about his actions to cover up his failures because he feels deceit will keep the Lowman name in good standing.

Willy feels like he is a failure because he defines success by money and fame neither one of which is achieved. The people in his life complicate this challenge to be a success. Willy knows he has failed and the only remaining way he can succeed is to live vicariously through his son. Willy's hopes are hinged on Biff, and for a while young Biff seems to fulfill Willy's dreams. This changes when Biff fails math and does not attend summer school. The dream is ruined; and Biff is angry with Willy, because he recognizes the dream was more Willy's than his. Biff was so mad that he says, "Take that phony dream and burn it" (p. 133). It is unfair to Biff that Willy's happiness rests in Biff's hand. Biff makes it clear that he will not be a success sole for Willy; it is Willy's duty to be his own success. Willy fails and is constantly reminded of this by both Linda and Charlie. Willy hates when Linda sews her own stockings because it reminds him that he cannot provide sufficiently for his family. Linda also mentions the car bills, the vacuum cleaner bills, and the fridge bill which further humiliates Willy by showing how his salary could not cover the household repairs. He cannot provide enough to purchase high quality appliances so he buys no name brands that break easily. Willy feels that if he brings home no money, he is a failure, so he goes to Charlie for...
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