A Lot of Flaws of Willy Loman
How it works
Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” was a great man simply because he was just a man, working as a salesman to support his family. Willy, the bread winner, was typical to the average American Dream, where the wife, Lynda, stayed at home raising their two boys, Biff and Happy. It was clear that Willy truly wanted the best for his family, giving them the newest refrigerator, or the latest vacuum cleaner. Willy was not able to afford these luxuries most of the time, putting his family in crippling debt.
He would then proceed to take advantage of their insurance policy, taking his own life in a car crash so his family could collect the insurance money.
The furthest I could pin-point the downfall of Willy Loman would have to be when he had an affair with “The Woman” in Boston. His betrayal of his family haunted him all the way to his grave. When he witnessed Lynda mending her old stockings, he became enraged because he was overcome with the guilt of spending his money on new stockings for “The Woman.”
Willy Loman had several fatal flaws, one of them being his values. He valued personality and being liked by others over intellect. Willy would often tease Bernard, Biff’s childhood friend, calling him an anemic, when Bernard was only trying to get Biff to study for Regents. “Willy: That’s just what I mean, Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him…” Willy enforces his values into his two sons and some may argue that’s why Biff did not graduate high school.
Eventually, it was Willy Loman’s Denial of reality that led to his demise. He made his children lie to him, so he didn’t need to confront reality. In the end, Willy escaped from reality by killing himself. He assumed that the main way he could be of any use to his family was in the event that died, and they got the insurance money. Rather than confronting his issues, he kept running from them. Without a doubt, his death allowed his wife to pay off the debts. Willy became a kind of a symbol of atonement for his family. Yet, he had continuously victimized his wife and his children. He could have faced these issues without killing himself in the event that he had stood up to them face first.
Willy noticed, close to the finish of the play, that he’s simply never going to succeed in the sales industry. If he never realized his situation, then he wouldn’t choose to kill himself. Willy killed himself, believing that Biff would use the extra cash to begin a business, but at Willy’s funeral, Biff made it clear this would not happen.
Willy Loman was doomed a tragic hero the moment he decided to become a salesman. When Willy met a salesman named Dave Singleman, he was inspired by the impact Dave had on the hundreds of salesmen that attended his funeral. The whole point of Willy wanting to become a salesman was that he wanted to experience the same comradery that he thought would come with being a salesman. Throughout the rest of his career, he had an exaggerated view of his own success. He would tell his sons that police cars would guard his car in the parking lot and that everyone knew of him in New England.
In my opinion, being a salesman was not the right line of work for Willy Loman because he was too insecure about his weight and as he got older, he did not make as many sales. If Willy had just gone to Alaska to look for his brother, Ben, his life would have been different. He would have had a different job, probably working as a diamond miner, living the rest of his life in Alaska with his family. Biff would have graduated high school and would have had a football scholarship to any college of his choice.
In regard to Biff referring to Willy as a “fine troubled prince”, we must first understand the context of the conversation. At this point in the story, all respect that Biff had for Willy has nearly gone. During Biff’s childhood, it was clear that he adored his father. He went to Boston to get Willy to speak to his teacher, knowing for a fact that Willy could persuade him to not flunk him. He was disillusioned when he caught Willy red-handed with “The Woman”. Furthermore, Biff was speaking about him to the women, so it would have been too complicated to tell them that Willy was unfaithful to his wife and that was the reason Biff lost all motivation to graduate high school. It was easier for Biff to speak of Willy as a “fine troubled prince”, in a sarcastic manner.
In conclusion, Willy Loman had a lot of flaws. Humans make mistakes, and Willy made a lot of them. What separates Willy from being evil was that he truly wanted the best for his family. Willy’s “American Dream” was to succeed in the sales industry and to be liked by everyone. He had good intentions, and he gave the biggest sacrifice by taking his own life so that his family could collect the insurance money. During the funeral, it was Biff’s observation that Willy seemed happier working on the house than he did working as a salesman. Linda also expresses her displeasure for there not being a lot of people at Willy’s funeral. Comparing this to the amount of people that were at Dave Singleman’s funeral, it showed the dark truth of being a salesman.