“Death of a Salesman” Essay

“Death of a Salesman” Essay
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The book “Death of a Salesman” is the sad story of a man who worked all his life to achieve the American Dream onlyto discover that it is an unreachable idealistic way of life. The theme of the book had me rethinking my beliefs in life about the amount of success that I can actually achieve and what I would be willing to do, give up, and create in order to just strive to achieve my personal American Dream. The fact that Willy Loman lived all his life in a pattern that he believed would help him achieve the dream is what makes the play even sadder. During his lifetime he completely lost track of the simple things in life that made it all worth living. The love of his family and the acceptance of his sons is something that he did not even notice slipping away from him as he badgered them to achieve his ideals rather than their own. This is a sentiment that became clear when Willy, in a confrontation with Linda asks her:
I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism? (Act 1, Part 1, Page 5).

It was difficult for Willy to accept that his son, Biff, was going down a career path that he did not agree with. It kind of reminds me about the relationship that most parents have with their kids. That is when the kid has a totally different idea for his future than his parents. Somehow, not sharing your parents passion and dreams turns a child into a failure in the eyes of the parents. This is something that I am quite familiar with, having a more diverse interest than my parents do with regards to my future.

Even Willys view of society is all screwed up. What with his belief that:
… the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates a personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. (Act 1, Part 3, Page 21)
By referring to his relationship with society as merely a means to his end, we see that Willy has no other care in life except his desire to get ahead and improve himself. To become an admired leader in order to gain the acceptance of the society that he so wishes to belong to.

It is this mindset of his that negatively impacts the way his son Biff sees himself. As a young man trying to wint he acceptance of his father, it becomes an impossible task because Biff is doing something to please his father but that leaves him unhappy about himself. To quote: Why am I trying to become what I dont want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! (Act 2, Part 7, Page 104).

Sitting back as I read this quote, I have come to realize that most of us are actually living the life of Biff these days. We work, not in a field that we are often trained for, but we do it because we need to survive. We work in a field that we trained for but leaves one unhappy because it is a course of life that was chosen for us by our parents. Our desire to please them rises above our personal need to please oneself. Therefore, the sadness in life that Willy and Biff feel are actually related and neither of them realize it.
Upon reaching the end of the play, I had come to a conclusion. That I would do what I wanted in life which made me happy. For doing things to gain the acceptance of other people will leave me broken and unhappy for the rest of my life.