Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman shows us how one man's blind faith in a misconception of the American Dream becomes an obsession of accomplishment that destroys his life and nearly that of his family.
Miller's main character Willy Loman somehow comes to believe that success always comes to those who are well liked and good looking. His downfall is that he does not equate success with hard work and perseverance.
This faulty thinking keeps him from achieving his goals of wealth and status. His boys Biff and Happy are taught the same faulty values and are destined to fail as well.
The devastating effects of Willy's obsession are seen throughout the family starting with Willy who begins to lose his mind and his confidence that he will someday prevail. He is torn between denial that he is ultimately a failure and desperation to succeed at any cost. In Willy's opinion a man without success is nothing.
Linda, Willy's adoring wife weather's Willy's ups and downs with patience and hope that someday he will realize that he is successful. She believes that a home, a loving family, and food on the table are all anyone needs. Linda says to him "why must everybody conquer the world? You're well like and everyone loves you" (p292). She is often trying to point out his accomplishments, but, he turns a blind eye.
Happy, Willy's youngest son is truly a mess. He follows in his father's footsteps into the business world, where he is admittedly unhappy, yet continues because it is what is expected of him. He, like Willy believes that success is the measure of a man. He says "I gotta show some of those pompous, self important executives over there that Hap Loman can make the grade" (p 250). We see his blind desire to succeed and know he's heading down the same path of destruction.
Biff, the oldest boy of course cannot find happiness either, but, for different reasons than the other Loman men. Biff actually has a job that he...