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Death of a Character.

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  • March 25, 2003
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Essay looks at the character of Willy Loman. How Willy's low self worth, misplaced societal values, and his stubborn inability to change leads him through his life pretending to be more important, more liked, and more successful than he really is. This ultimately leads to his demise.

Death of a Character

In Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman the reader is introduced to the main character of Willy Loman. Willy is a middle-class salesman who, in the course of a single day, comes to realize that the American Dream, which he has pursued for 40 years, has failed him. Willy's pursuit of success has affected not only his self worth, but has also dominated the lives of his wife Linda and his sons Biff and Happy. Willy's low self worth, misplaced societal values, and his stubborn inability to change leads him through his life pretending to be more important, more liked, and more successful than he really is. Ultimately this vision he has leads him to his death thinking that he will actually be helping his family.

Willy's low self worth is not talked about much in the story, but rather more implied through several conversations with his wife. I do not believe that Willy is even aware of the low self worth he has. While talking with his wife and bother Ben, he says little things like "I'm not noticed" (1470), "I'm fat. I'm very foolish to look at." (1471) and "I still feel - kind of temporary." (1478). He compensates for this by talking about how important he thinks he is. "Go to Filene's, go to the Hub, go to Slattery's, Boston. Call out the name Willy Loman and see what happens!" (1483) His low self worth and then compensation for that is one of the factors that lead to his demise when he is faced with reality of this.

Willy is an ordinary man, whose dreams and expectations have been shattered by the false values of the society he has put his faith in. He understands society places great value on success and can not see that society also has a way of...