Death of a Salesman


Points to Ponder

What is the significance of appearance in the play?

Throughout the play, Willy is more concerned with appearance than substance. He builds himself up to be more successful than he is, even telling Linda things that he knows she know are not true in order to make himself feel better. He is very concerned about the physical impression that he makes. He is very proud that his sons are physically attractive, because he links physical attractiveness to a potential for success. He holds on to this notion throughout the play despite the fact that Bernard, who is not as physically attractive as Happy or Biff, is far more successful than either of them.

How does the idea of betrayal play into Biff and Willy’s relationship?

Until Biff discovered that his father was having an affair, he idolized Willy. He believed all of Willy’s stories about being a successful man, and his father’s story was the story of the American Dream. However, when he discovers that his father has been unfaithful, he questions everything his father represented, which makes him question the American Dream itself. Deprived of motivation and a goal, Biff finds himself wandering. At the same time, Willy had begun living vicariously through Biff; while he had not achieved significant success on his own, he felt that his son would achieve the elusive success that had evaded Willy. When Biff gave up on his dreams, not going to summer school and consequently not going to college and playing football, Willy felt betrayed, as well. Both men have allowed those feelings of betrayal to dictate the terms of their relationship.

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Essays About Death of a Salesman