Death of a Salesman by Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Though he hated his father's beliefs and principles, Biff inevitable became the victim of these misguided ideals, and like Willy, eventually became a failure.

Biff was not able to achieve his desire to satisfy his father's expectations about him to be economically successful -- that is, to subsist also to his father's 'American dream' kind of life. Biff's resentment to his father resulted to his current state of poverty, with no permanent job to provide him with financial support and immaturity in dealing with his problems in life. He also lacks self-confidence because of his father's constant criticisms about his life and lack of ambition, which made him indecisive and resigned in the kind of life that he leads: " ... I realized something about myself and I tried to explain it to you ... I think I'm just not smart enough to make sense out of it for you" (128).

Biff ultimately brands himself similar to his father's failure in life, reflecting the truth about the two characters: Willy's belief that he and his sons are unique and bound to be great and wealthy individuals in the world of capitalism and commerce (i.e., the roots of economic wealth) is contradicted by the characters' behavior and beliefs in life, leading to their eventual downfall (132).

However, despite their irreparable conflict against each other, Biff and Willy share a bond, the bond that links and tags them as "failures" in the capitalist society they live in. Billy's continuous resentment of himself and his father shows how much he worries about what his father is going to say with whatever he has done or will be doing. Willy's constant reprimanding of Biff shows how he cares so much for his son's welfare, although the way by which he want his son to achieve success in life is not the appropriate one. However, these intentions were not communicated properly and misinterpreted between Willy and Biff, which further aggravated their anger.

The rest of the story illustrates the conflict between Biff and Willy, and their disagreements and disappointments with each other came to an end with Willy putting an end to his life by committing suicide, and Biff accepting the fact that his father's credo that "personality always wins the day" do not work in the New World anymore, wherein hard work and perseverance is given more importance than personal relations and connections between employers and employees. The story ended on a sad, tragic note: Biff stayed away from his father despite his reaching-out to him, while Willy resorted to suicide to end all the troubles and suffering he and his family had endured throughout his lifetime.

These dynamics in the father-son relationship between Willy and Biff was an illustration of how Willy as the primary failure in the Loman family had inadvertently projected his failures to his sons. As Thompson's (2002) analysis show, the Loman family's tragedy was that 'history had repeated itself' to them, wherein Biff and Happy shared the same misery and misguided beliefs their father, Willy, had believed and held on for years:

Their young lives, once as promising ... come to nothing, because ... they believed that their physical attractiveness and their superficial charm would carry them through lives. Now well into their thirties, when they should be responsible young men out making their careers, supporting families, and living independent lives, Biff and Happy Loman remain as immature, as petty and snickering, as they were in high school, when they spent their time cheating on exams, stealing from neighbors, roughing up girls, and lying at every opportunity.

Even after Willy's death, the Loman family's life remained a tragedy. The sudden death of Willy did not prepare Biff and Happy for the hard, real life awaiting them. This is the tragedy of Willy's failure as a father: he thought that his inefficiency as a father to them would be absolved once he committed death voluntarily, benefiting his family by his sheer absence (Shamir, 2002:172). However, Willy's "legacy" to his sons remained, thereby making them unprepared to the harsh realities that gradually killed their father's spirit as a man and as a salesman.

In conclusion, the tragedy in "Death of a Salesman" was not only Willy's failure as a salesman and father, but also the uncertain future of Biff and Happy, who, despite their realization that their father was mistaken and wrong in his beliefs, subscribed to the belief that they can still survive in the world through charisma and relationships with other people. It was clear that as the play ended, they have not realized that they must work hard and set their goals straight in order to achieve success -- in short, they have to be what their father had not been when he was still alive. It is by turning their backs on Willy's American dream and inefficiency that Biff and Happy can truly become successful and contented in their lives.


Miller, A. (1976). Death of a Salesman. NY: Penguin Books.

Otten, T. (2002). The Temptation of Innocence in the Dramas of Arthur Miller. Columbia: University of Missouri Press.

Shamir, M. (2002). Boys don't cry? Rethinking the narratives of masculinity and emotion in the U.S. NY: Columbia UP.

Thompson, T. (2002). "Miller's Death of…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Death Of A Salesman By" (2005, October 23) Retrieved October 27, 2016, from

"Death Of A Salesman By" 23 October 2005. Web.27 October. 2016. <>

"Death Of A Salesman By", 23 October 2005, Accessed.27 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Death of a Salesman by

    Willy's "psychopathy," he explained, is a manifestation of his being "other-directed" -- or possessing a value system entirely determined by external norms…evidence that goes beyond normal human inconsistency into the realm of severe internal division" (3). The author's analysis illustrates that Willy's "psychopathy" is an inevitable and consistent result of his constant dreaming about success and wealth using the wrong approach. Knowing that he has failed himself and his

  • Death of a Salesman

    Death of a Salesman In all of twentieth-century American drama, it is Arthur Miller's 1949 masterwork Death of a Salesman that has been lauded as the best American play. The play deals with important aspects of American life, discovering and exploring the idea of the American dream. Since its first appearance in New York in 1949 to its numerous worldwide performances since, Death of a Salesman has spoken to the apprehensions

  • Death of a Salesman

    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Willy Loman finally realized, to an extent, that he had been living a life of illusion and self-deception. Towards the end of the play he concludes that would be worth more to the family dead then alive, "After all the highways, and the trains, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive." His son Biff has seen the truth about

  • Death of a Salesman by

    When the past no longer serves as an adequate escape, Willy resorts to complete fantasy in the form of Ben. For Willy, his long lost brother represents the ultimate realization of the American Dream. Ben left his family to find fortune in Alaska. He represents the adventurer who makes a success through entrepreneurialism and audacity (Krasner 46). Miller however indicates that this success is decidedly uncertain; pointing out the wishful

  • Death of a Salesman

    Death of a Salesman Linda: Are they any worse than his sons? When he brought them business, when he was young, they were glad to see him. But now his old friends, the old buyers that loved him so and always found some order to hand him in a pinch - they're all dead, retired. He used to be able to make six, seven calls a day in Boston. Now he

  • Death of a Salesman the New Millennium

    Death of a Salesman The new millennium has brought with it new and interesting challenges. Our values and ideals have evolved along with the changing times. This is also true of business and the things that constitute success. For these reasons, many have questioned the relevance of literature created during the previous century to the world as it appears today. Such questions have also been raised about Death of a Salesman

  • Death of a Salesman Ethics in Business

    Death of a Salesman: Ethics in Business Arthur Miller's play titled Death of a Salesman is classic example of the transition experienced by those involved in the business world during the middle part of the 20th Century. Business ethics and the economy are interwoven and tied to the theme of achieving the American dream in the play. Willy, the main character in the play is caught in between two popular but

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved