Willy Loman, a character in the play, Death of a Salesman, is a man who desperately wants to be successful, but has to deal with many setbacks in his life. He, like most others, has both positive and negative personality traits. The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him changes between the beginning and the end of the play.
At the beginning of the play, Willy sees himself as being successful and well-liked. This is partly because he is trying to maintain a successful image for the sake of his friends and family. Willy puts great emphasis on his theory that one is more successful if they are attractive and well-liked. According to him, he is well known throughout New England and can sell things to many people there, even going as far as to stay that he is vital there. Willy is also very proud of the fact that he averages one hundred and seventy dollars in sales in 1928. When he looks at these accomplishments, he feels successful and well-liked.
As the play goes on, Willy begins to see himself as a failure in his job, as a father, and in his marriage. In his job, he makes sales calls and feels like he does not know anybody anymore and they do not know him. He used to travel to the same areas and people knew him and would buy from him. Now, he is getting very frustrated because he makes trips and comes back without selling anything. He also sees himself failing as a parent. Although Happy is somewhat successful, Willy sees Biff as pretty much a complete failure. It all starts when he fails math in High School and refuses to go to summer school. He has scholarships and can't use them because he did not graduate. He ends up working on a farm, but realizes that there is not much future in that line of work. Biff ends moving back home without a job. Willy feels like he is failing in his marriage because he has had an affair. He gives time and love to a woman other than his wife. He even gives her new stockings that he should have given to his wife Linda. She has stockings that have holes in them and she has to sew them so that she can continue to wear them. All of these things show that Willy sees himself as a failure in his job, as a father and in his marriage.
At the beginning of the story, others characters see Willy as a successful salesman and loving family man. He makes many trips and is able to sell things and earn a decent commission doing so. His family is able to take of their financial needs. He is also seen a loving family man. Willy wants his family to be successful, especially his two boys. Unfortunately, he pays more attention to Biff than anyone else. This is probably because he is a star football player and has scholarship activities that can lead to success which Willy himself longed for. He did not pay much attention to Happy, who make comments about his weight and getting married to try to get the attention from his father that he desperately wanted. Based on this, others at the beginning of the story see Willy as a successful salesman and a loving family man.
As the story continues, others see Willy as a failure and a dishonest man. Charley is the first one to see Willy's failures because Willy goes to him to borrow money to pay the bills because he is not earning enough money on his own. His family sees his failures when he goes to his boss to ask for a local job because he can no longer drive long distances because of his flashbacks and ends up getting fired. He does not immediately tell his family, but they end up finding out after a short period of time. Biff is the first on to see Willy as a failure. He goes to Boston to talk to his dad about the fact that he is failing math and discovers his father having an affair with a woman. Linda knows about the affair, but keeps it to herself as to not cause friction in the family. Based on this information, sadly, Willy is seen by others as a failure and a dishonest man by the end of the story.
In conclusion, Willy Loman, is a man who has both positive and negative personality traits. The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him changes between the beginning and the end of the play.
Miller, Arthur. "Death of a Salesman." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 4th ed. New York City: Pearson Longman, 2005. 1194.
You've done a good job of relating the action of the play and giving some insight into the characters and their motivations!
Your grammar and punctuation are very good! I have only a few little editing suggestions:
The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him, [add comma] changes between the beginning and the end of the play.
Willy puts great emphasis on his theory that one is more successful if they are attractive and well-liked. - "one" is singular; "they" is plural. Hence, "one" cannot be more successful if "they" are attractive. It's all right to say "if he is attractive and well-liked," especially in this context when the "one" is a "he" anyway.
This is probably because he is a star football player..." - In your previous sentence, "he" referred to Willy; you cannot use "he" in the following sentence to refer to someone different without first using a proper name to identify the new "he." Say, "...because Biff is a star..."
Biff is the first on to see Willy as a failure. - I think this is a typo; you meant "one" instead of "on."
Linda knows about the affair, but keeps it to herself so as to not cause friction in the family.
Unless you were specifically instructed to make your concluding sentences exactly mirror your thesis, it's better to vary the wording slightly. Your thesis could also be a bit stronger. "The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him changes between the beginning and the end of the play" is a rather generic observation. You could make it stronger by saying something like,"By the end of the play, Willy's carefully constructed facade of the successful family man and salesman withers in the harsh light of reality." In other words, be more specific about how the changes affect him.
Ambition. It's one of those things that can be either your best friend or your worst enemy.
On one hand, ambition can motivate us to get out of bed in the morning and follow our dreams. On the other hand, ambition can keep us from recognizing our own limits, trapping us in the delusional grandeur of imagined achievements.
For Willy Loman, ambition is the ultimate foe—the Darth Vader to his Luke Skywalker, the Voldemort to his Harry Potter, the Cruella to his Pongo.
Death of a Salesman is a tragedy about the differences between the Loman family's dreams and the reality of their lives. The play is a scathing critique of the American Dream and of the competitive, materialistic American society of the late 1940s. The storyline features Willy Loman, an average guy who attempts to hide his averageness and failures behind increasingly delusional hallucinations as he strives to be a "success."
The idea for the play first manifested itself as a short story, which author Arthur Miller initially abandoned. His interest was renewed later on however, by an uncle who was a salesman. When the play version appeared on Broadway, it was a total hit. It won Arthur Miller the Pulitzer Prize in 1949. By this point in his career, Miller had already proven his chops with his hit play, All My Sons. However, with Death of a Salesman, Miller's career was launched into a whole new level.
Death of a Salesman is widely considered even to this day to be one of the greatest American plays ever written. It's often ranked right up there with classics like Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Thornton Wilder's Our Town, and Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Like all classics, Death of a Salesman's themes still ring true today. Its harsh criticism of American capitalism may not be quite as shocking as it was when the play first premiered, but we have a feeling that every modern-day audience member knows exactly what Miller is getting at—whether you agree with him or not.
Think about Michael Scott from The Office.Having trouble picturing him? Try this. Better? Great—because that’s Willy Loman in a nutshell. He’s delusional, thinks everyone loves him, and is depressing in an "I’m manifesting everyone’s fears about obsession with material success" kind of way.
But now that we’ve gotten a flashy pop-culture reference out of the way, let’s get to the bigger picture. Death of a Salesman is often considered an attack on the American Dream. Sound familiar? In 2004, surveys found one-third of Americans adamantly insisting they were not living the American Dream, with half of them saying it wasn’t even attainable for them.
What has the American Dream come to mean, anyway? For Willy Loman, it was popularity and demeanor. For many of us, it’s a big-screen TV and a bimmer in the garage. The bigger question is what we’re sacrificing for this big, glittery dream. "Success" starts being a relative term. You’re only successful if you’re more successful than other people you know; your car is only sexy if it’s sexier than the one next door.
So try to read Death of a Salesman with this in mind: if the American Dream isn’t working, or if it has shifted to the point where success is no longer equated with happiness, what’s the point? Or, if you know anything about Indie rock, please apply the following Metriclyrics: "Buy this car to drive to work; drive to work to pay for this car."