Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Specifically it will compare and contrast the character of Willy Loman, the main character in the play. Willy is a salesman who is getting older and losing the advantage he had in his business. On one side, Willy is a volunteer, because he brings his problems on himself. On the other side, Willy is a victim of society; his problems are not his fault.
Willy brings on his problems himself with his behavior, his failure to face reality, and his stubborn attitude. For example, he admires Ben his brother, and Howard, the uncaring business owner, because he thinks they are successful. However, Miller portrays them as rude, ruthless, and uncaring, and Willy is unable to see that their behavior is wrong. Ben, his rich brother, could have helped the family, but he ignored them. In a dream sequence, he tells Willy, "With one gadget he made more in a week than a man like you could make in a lifetime" (Miller 748). He is arrogant and allows the Lomans to suffer when they did not have to, but Willy is too proud and stubborn to ask for help, and he cannot see this is wrong. He allows his family to suffer because of his pride, and he is a volunteer to his own unhappiness.
Willy also has an affair with a woman he meets on the road, and that is just another sign that he is a volunteer and sets himself up in situations that bring on problems. "The Woman" creates problems in the family, too, something Willy could have controlled if he had not had the affair. His son Biff discovers Willy with "The Woman" by accident, and the discovery alters his life. He is disappointed with his father, so he leaves the family instead of going to college, and this ruins all of his father's dreams for him, which is just another disappointment in Willy's disappointing life. He sets himself up for failure all the time, and he cannot acknowledge that to himself or his family.
Willy also cannot accept love from those around him. Linda and the boys really do love him, even if they do not always show it. Linda says, "And the boys, Willy. Few men are idolized by their children the way you are" (Miller 742). She tries to lift him up when he is depressed, and she truly is worried about his actions and his subtle suicide attempts, but she cannot get through to him because he thinks he is unlovable and a failure, so he sets himself up for his problems, in a way creating his own failure. Even his suicide at the end of the play is a failure, because he thinks the family will get the insurance money, but they will not, because the insurance company knows his car accident was a suicide. He is a sad character, but he did not have to be that way, he volunteered himself and made his own troubles, so his fate is all in his own hands.
As the play progresses, he becomes more unbalanced, and he is no longer in charge of himself or his life, again adding to his own misery. He becomes increasingly convinced of strange things, like the need to plant a vegetable garden. Toward the end of the play he says, "Carrots quarter-inch apart. Rows one foot rows" (Miller 793), as he plants the garden in the dark, and it is clear he is losing his grip on reality. He has imaginary conversations with people that are not really there, he is convinced that his actions are rational when they are not, and he even turns down a job from his friend Charley because of his pride, which is totally irrational. His life is falling apart, and at every step, he has made bad choices, and so, he is in his own way and creates his own problems, leaving his family alone and destitute after he dies. He could have done many other things with his life, and he could have treated his family better, so they did not always fight and bully each other, but he chose not too.
On the other side, Willy can be seen as a victim in this play. His boss, Howard, literally puts him out on the street with no prospects, when Willy has worked hard for him for decades. He is cruel and unsympathetic, and…