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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: Willy’s Journey from Desperation to Depression

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In ‘Death of a Salesman’ Arthur Miller provides the theme of disillusionment and depression, the conflict to cope with urbanization and misplaced identity. Willy Loman’s personality is portrayed with the aid of Miller captures the trauma of one who cannot compromise and change with the new style of a mechanized and modernized world and as a result suffers from perpetual neurosis. The different characters like Biff, Happy, Bernard, and Charley make contributions in bringing out the unique components and nuances of Willy’s character. The play centers on the emotional and psychological journey of Willy from a stage of desperation to succumbing to depression. The struggle between rationality and a deliberate slipping into the dream world and the character of Willy who truly refuses to see actuality make the story realistic and one with which one identifies.

Willy Loman’s character is stated to be trapped in adolescence. Though he has reached the ripe age of sixty and is the father of two grown up sons he nonetheless idolizes the romantic concept of the rags to riches story. To him his uncle Benjamin represented ideal manhood. He is nevertheless mesmerized with the aid of the air of secrecy of his uncle who used to say on his collecting massive wealth “Why, boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was once twenty-one I walked out. […] And by God I was once rich’. His obsession with virility and machismo might be understood as his failure to live up to society’s expectation of a successful male. He would boast about his being a successful salesman in his formative years and tried to take refuge in an imaginative past. He desired his sons to be what he could not. Willy desired his sons to be popular, well-known and well-established however failed to comprise in them the tenacity and diligence required to be an achiever. Like a toddler Willy would go by way of apparent and transient moments of pleasure and victory but did no longer have the far-sight to chalk out the right instructions for his sons. He lived in a phantasm that his sons had been the exceptional and the brightest among all the different kids in the vicinity. But when he came to realize the truth it used to be too late. He has grown to be an old man and each of his sons have been men in their thirties and yet not settled with a job and a wife. He used to be all the extra depressed when he located that the others have long past way in advance of him in phrases of money, social repute and hooked up kids with impervious future. Charley whom he used to pity is father of a profitable and renowned son. Willy’s disillusionment is whole when he is familiar with that he had overestimated his children’s plausible and had constructed false expectations of them.

Willy had been blind to fact when it came to self-knowledge. He hardly understood himself and his sons who had been like him. His immaturity that made him escape into a vibrant past also prevented him from accepting the existing reality. The lack of ability to face the reality and understand his failure heightened his pathos and bitterness. His existence appeared to be stagnated and fixated with false hopes that his sons would locate a foothold in their respective lives. Like Willy his sons too appeared to be caught in their boyhood. They seemed to be misplaced and nevertheless brooding over their right old faculty days, fun, games and girls. Biff, who was once curiously extra conscious than Happy, admits of his failure ‘Maybe it truly is my trouble. I’m like a boy. I’m now not married, I’m no longer in business, I just – I’m like a boy’. In comparison to the three Loman guys the other male figures like Willy’s father, uncle Benjamin and Bernard are attributed with different components of manhood. Willy’s father used to be an adventurer who set forth to Alaska leaving behind Willy who was once a toddler however he is viewed by means of Willy as one with amazing strength and lifestyles pressure. Uncle Benjamin is described to be ‘a stolid man, in his sixties, with a mustache and an authoritative air’. To Willy he embodies ‘the mystery of success, the Eleusinian ceremony acknowledged solely to initiates’. The meeting between Willy and Bernard is ironical as Willy had usually held Bernard as inferior to his sons both in talent and looks. Willy never realized that his sons barring for accurate looks neither have the competence nor urge to do something meaningful.

Willy grew hateful of the changing cityscape with the greenery giving way to concrete structures. He felt claustrophobic both physically and mentally. The very phrases “The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows, home windows and bricks’ make his suffocation obvious. At this factor it is worth citing that if Willy’s father and his uncle represented a romantic previous of mystery and adventure, Bernard stands as an expression of existing reality. Contrary to Willy’s best of a profitable man Bernard is the achiever of the contemporary age. He is a man of few phrases and means business. Probably Willy’s perfect by no means existed and it was the dawning of the realization that devastated him. He understood that he did not suit in anywhere. He ought to no longer go back to the previous that was once phase of his wishful wondering nor ought to he lay down to the needs of the modern city culture.

In conclusion it might be stated that Willy represents the common man who needs to make it huge in the future and expects his teenagers to realize his unfulfilled dream. Where Charley’s dream comes proper Willy’s does not. Apparently Willy seems to be impractical and cussed however inside he is a dreamer and the tragedy lies not in his premature demise but in the dying of his dreams. He was once lonely till the stop as he could now not have faith others to recognize his sense of loss and alienation. In his demise he is extra a tragic hero who ought to not come to terms with defeat and loss of self-esteem.

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Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller: Willy’s Journey From Desperation To Depression. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
“Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller: Willy’s Journey From Desperation To Depression.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller: Willy’s Journey From Desperation To Depression. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller: Willy’s Journey From Desperation To Depression [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from:
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