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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Argumentative Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2020


Although he appears visionary and hardworking, Willy Loman fails to teach his sons the lessons of becoming successful in life because of his beliefs. Willy survives with a misconstrued ambition of becoming wealthy and inculcates this idea into his sons, Happy and Biff, even though he did not know how to achieve it. He trained his sons on his approach to life and hoped they would follow and achieve his dream of success.

He has no plan for his life and concentrates on his past failures, and his children seem perched to being successful, primed on his world hypotheses. Salesmanship has given Willy a feeling of greatness and merit. He believes that the present world has dishonored them by taking away the personality of salesmen.

Willy has taught this notion to his sons, who are very receptive and obedient to their father. However, these believes have caused him disappointment as they end up turning down his principles and goals. Willy Loman fails to guide his sons to greatness in their lives because of his personal and cultural beliefs.

Personal failure

Willy has an insensitive personality. He does not realize that his capabilities and aspirations are different from those of his sons. While Biff wanted an outdoors job, his father wanted a white collar job for him. Willy does not admit failure nor consider the opinion of his sons. This has led to rebellion from his sons, when they discover what is right for them.

For example, Biff disliked the business life recommended by his father and opted a life on the farms after realizing that success means an enjoyable life and not money. Willy believed that Biff would be successful in business because of his attractiveness, and his past splendor in high school soccer. However, this notion was wrong as Biff failed to graduate from high school and join college because of his arrogance.

He later recognizes his true personality and decides to work on a farm, where he would enjoy and feel comfortable. Willy is very upset in him and is discontented in all that he does. Contrary to his believe that popularity and fame lead to success; Willy never earned handsome wealth despite his claim for fame, and many years of experience.

This is made unsound when his boss demotes him, and he merely earns a commission before he finally gets fired, despite his friendship with Wagner’s father. His claim for connections fails him again. Willy’s idea of connecting Biff with important people at Penn State would be futile as football does not seem to be the best career for him. To Biff, having the right connections does not always help.

The expectations of Willy that his requiem would be fully packed due to his well connection and popularity failed to turn out as he thought since only the family members were present. Willy had inculcated a sense of superiority in Biff Loman that made him arrogant. This made him unsuccessful in graduating from high school and advance to college.

Cultural failure

Willy’s melancholy originates from the misconceptions he had about the American dream and his incapability to connect how the world works with how he thinks it should work. The American dream stated that: through the established qualities of determination, creativity, hard work, and resilience, one may get contentment through riches and that a good-looking and loved man will no doubt attain the comforts of modern life.

This dream can be divided into two significances; the traditional dream and the business achievement dream. When one owns a house, has a good paying job, and lives a secure life, then h/she has accomplished the traditional dream. Willy Loman has accomplished this vision as he has an occupation, a vehicle, a residence, and a family, but he did not appreciate it.

He was so preoccupied with the business dream that he dismantles his family in the end. This dream made him sacrifice going to Alaska in search of his father where he came across the successful salesman, Dave. He decides to follow the same career path as Dave and hopes to get the same success as Dave. It is not until thirty five years of his career when he realizes he had not achieved the prosperity he had hoped to achieve.

What Willy fails to know is that even Dave Singleman, who is his epitome of prosperity, has not fulfilled the American dream. This is because at the age of eighty-four, Dave has not retired, lives in a hotel room, and has no family. His illusion about life and his mental disarray about the real American dream make him fail his sons as he does not know what is really needed of them to succeed.


Willy’s life was a disappointment as he had the wrong ambitions and failed to teach his sons the lessons for victory in life. He deluded himself that he could be a wealthy salesman, when he knew that he would be excellent at operating with hands. If Willy had faced his capabilities in a rational and sincere way, his life would not have ended this way.

It is evident that the top secret to success is a fortune in possessing ordinary talents and aptitude, and readiness to take chances in the corporate world, in addition to being industrious, devoid of taking shortcuts with friends. Cultural believes, such as the American dream, should help to instill values in individuals to put efforts in everything that they do.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller." July 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/death-of-a-salesman-by-arthur-miller/.


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