The Play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
The play “Death of a Salesman” is a masterpiece by one of the finest American playwrights. Arthur Miller wrote and published this artwork in 1949. The play examines the funny life of Willy Loman. Willy believed that the American Dream was something achievable and realistic. He wanted the best for his children and family. He worked hard in order to have an extraordinary life (Miller 16). According to the protagonist, hard work was the best key towards a better life. Willy’s experiences, actions, and goals show how he desperately focused on the American dream. This essay explains why this desperate quest resembles a religious quest.
Religious crusades can be undertaken for various reasons or goals. According to historians, many religious crusades are usually undertaken for economic, political, and religious reasons. Such religious crusades are usually characterized by confidence, aggressiveness, and determination. Many historical crusades attracted women and men from all social classes. The religious crusaders were determined to achieve their goals. Some of them wanted to defend the influence of other religions such as Islam. Such crusades resulted in massacres, deaths, and economic distress (Kennedy, Gioia and Revoyr 42). That being the case, the ambitions and experiences of Willy Loman resembles a typical religious crusade.
According to the play, Willy’s state of mind had depreciated after getting an accident. His business trips to other regions were canceled because of his condition. Willy wanted to secure a new job in town after losing his first one. He also decided to meet a former employer in order to secure another job. However, this former employer was unable recognize him. Willy also became frustrated after realizing that Bernard, Charley’s son, had a successful career. He had always despised and discouraged Charley. Bernard had become a successful lawyer in the country. Willy was disoriented because his sons had not made it in life (Miller 49).
Willy had an affair with a receptionist during one of his business trips. This malpractice shocked Biff who eventually lost his trust with his father. Biff and Happy believed also believed that their father had become indecisive. Their father could even talk to himself whenever he was alone. At the same time, Willy became angry with his sons for not working hard in their lives. He was also unhappy because Biff had not joined college (Kennedy, Gioia and Revoyr 76). Willy was also optimistic that Biff would become an athlete. However, this dream perished when he failed to join college.
Biff eventually told his father that he was not meant for something great in life. Biff believed that he was an ordinary person. He also argued that it was appropriate for him to lead a normal life. The family started to believe that Willy’s expectations were unrealistic. At the same time, Willy was unhappy because Biff was a failure in life. Willy Loman wanted Biff to work hard in order to succeed in life (Miller 52).
Towards the end of his life, Willy Loman was convinced that Biff had already forgiven him. He also believed that Biff would pursue his career and eventually become a successful businessman. Willy crashed his personal car thus killing himself. Willy killed himself in an attempt to support Biff’s dreams. He wanted the life insurance cover to become Biff’s capital for his new business. After Willy’s death, Biff decided to lead an ordinary life. He had no dream of becoming a businessperson. Happy, Willy’s second son, decided “to follow in his father’s footsteps” (Miller 86).
This discussion shows clearly that Willy was using a desperate approach to achieve his goals. To begin with, he ignored the fact that “he was leading a normal life” (Miller 29). Willy wanted every person in his family to focus on the American dream. He wanted every son to have a successful career. Willy encouraged Biff to become a businessman because he had not joined college. However, his two sons continued to trick him (Miller 43).
The success of Charley’s son made Willy unhappy. This situation encouraged him to continue pressuring his sons. However, this desperate move did not work because his sons viewed themselves as ordinary people (Kennedy, Gioia and Revoyr 89). Most of the disagreements encountered in the family arose from Willy’s unrealistic dreams and expectations. Willy’s expectations and actions can therefore be likened to a religious crusade.
Willy’s death gives the true picture of his quest for the American dream. After realizing that he had failed in life, Willy sacrificed his life in order to create a new foundation for Biff. He killed himself in order to create a better future for Biff. Willy had always wanted to become a successful salesman. However, it was impossible for him to achieve this dream. Biff focused on his own life after his father’s death. This decision shows clearly that Biff was unhappy with Willy’s identity. Biff wanted to achieve his personal goals without focusing on his father’s expectations (Miller 69). That being the case, Willy’s desire to achieve his goals resembles a religious quest. His aggressiveness, determination, and confidence resulted in death. Willy’s personality therefore encourages people to focus on realistic goals in their lives.
Kennedy, Joe, Dana Gioia, and Nina Revoyr. Literature for Life: A Thematic Introduction to Reading and Writing. New York, NY: Longman, 2012. Print.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Boston, MA: Heinemann, 1994. Print.