Death of a Salesman

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How Willie’s Tragic Flaw of Pride Contributes to His Downfall

In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the main character, Willy Loman is a salesman that believes it is not grades you make but the hands you shake and how well you are liked. Willy was at one time a good salesman but now he can’t make enough money to support his family. Willy’s pride causes him to portray himself as a big shot salesman that is well-liked by everyone. Though Willy is not as a successful salesman as he claims, Willy’s tragic flaw of pride contributes to his downfall.

Willy’s pride contributes to his downfall when he implies to his two sons Biff and Happy that being well-liked will make you a more successful person than making good grades in school. Willy states, “Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets in the business world, you are going to be five times ahead of him…Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want” (1881). Because of Willy’s beliefs Biff and Hap never really tried hard in school and in Willy’s eyes they never succeeded in life, causing Willy to have delusional expectations of his sons being successful business men. Willy’s over the top sense of pride puts forward his insecurity of not meeting his own expectations when he says, “You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. ‘Willy Loman is here!’ That’s all they have to know, and I go right through” (1881). Biff and Happy are absolutely mesmerized by their father when they are younger and they believe every word Willy says to them. The older Biff and Happy get it becomes clear to them that their father was nothing more than a liar trying to make himself well-liked by others. This causes Biff and Happy to lie, cheat, and steal to make them appear more successful to others.

Willy’s neighbor Charley offers him a job working for his...
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