While characters such as Willy, Linda, and Happy believe the U.S. to be a wellspring of easy opportunity and imminent success, the 1940s America of Death of a Salesman is crowded, competitive and mundane. This contrast sets up an important gap between reality and characters’ aspirations in the play. In the end, Willy’s belief that his self-worth is determined by material success destroys him. Death of a Salesman Theme of Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
Willy Loman is a dreamer of epic proportions. His dreams of material success and freedom ultimately dwarf the other aspects of his mentality to the point that he becomes completely unable to distinguish his wild hopes from rational realities in the present. Happy and Linda also are extremely optimistic, but they maintain their ability to distinguish hopes from reality. Biff more than any other character struggles against the force of Willy’s dreams and expectations. Death of a Salesman Theme of Lies and Deceit
The Lomans are all extremely self-deceptive, and in their respective delusions and blindness to reality, they fuel and feed off of one another. Willy convinces himself that he is successful, well liked, and that his sons are destined for greatness. Unable to cope with reality, he entirely abandons it through his vivid fantasies and ultimately through suicide. Linda and Happy similarly believe that the Lomans are about to make it big. Unlike the other members of his family, Biff grows to recognize that he and his family members consistently deceive themselves, and he fights to escape the cycle of lying. Death of a Salesman Theme of Success
Throughout Death of a Salesman, Willy pursues concrete evidence of his worth and success. He is entranced by the very physical, tangible results of Ben’s diamond mining efforts and strives to validate his own life by claiming concrete success. Willy projects his own obsession with material achievement onto his sons, who struggle...