Death Of A Salesman Essays

Introduction for Essay

Death of a Salesman” is a 20th-century movie surrounding the idea of the American Dream. The movie accomplishes this by putting its audience in the shoes of sixty-three-year-old Willy Loman, a salesman who has worked for the same company for over thirty years but has struggled to make ends meet. Over the course of six months, Willy has grown tired of life, and the movie “Death of a Salesman” documents his last day before he inevitably takes his own life. Throughout the movie, Willy brings his memories into the present, providing insight into his life experiences. Given Willy’s current situation and his memories, the audience is left wondering whether he truly accomplished what he set out to achieve. Based on the evidence provided in this essay, it can be concluded that Willy did not accomplish the American Dream.

Research Paper on Death Of A Salesman

The first reason why Willy Loman didn’t achieve the American Dream was because he didn’t expect more from himself. Willy’s mediocrity is evident from the beginning of the movie, as he has worked for the same company for 34 years without significant progress in his job. Willy’s exhaustion and admission of failure can be observed in the movie when he tells Linda, “I’m tired to death… I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it, Linda” (Death of a Salesman movie).

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Another example of Willy not pushing himself hard enough to pursue his goals is his tendency to escape into the past. This can be observed in the movie when Willy struggles to maintain his relationship with his son Biff while dealing with the trauma of losing his job. Willy runs away by flashing back to Biff’s football game, where Biff says, “That’s right, pap… And when I take off my helmet, that touchdown is for you” (Death of a Salesman movie). Willy’s inclination to escape into the past indicates his inability to face reality and confront his challenges.

Thesis Statement for Death Of A Salesman

Another one of Willy’s fatal flaws is his compulsive lying, which is evident throughout the movie. The first example of Willy’s lies takes place in the middle of the play when he returns home from a sales trip and discovers that Biff stole a football from his locker room, but Willy doesn’t seem to be upset about it. Instead, he establishes a false persona in front of his sons by saying, “I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own” (Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, pg. 198). It becomes clear that Willy is lying when, later in the story, he is forced to tell Linda the truth about his exaggerated number of sales because the bills are piling up faster than he can pay them off. He admits to Linda, “People don’t seem to take to me… I know it when I walk in. They seem to laugh at me” (Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, pg. 198).

Titles: Willy’s Lack of Self-Expectations

Willy’s arrogance and a false sense of pride contribute to his downfall, as his desire to live an unrealistic lifestyle overrides his ability to gain self-awareness. Willy’s pathological lying can be seen again later in the story when his elder son Biff walks in on him with his mistress. When confronted, Willy tells the mistress to go back to her room, claiming that they were probably done painting. When Biff continues to press Willy, he continues with his lies, saying that the mistress was a buyer who lives down the hall and buys for JH Simons while they are discussing paintings (Death of a Salesman movie). Willy’s lies have a negative impact on his family’s well-being and ultimately cost Biff his football career as he resents the sport after discovering his father’s infidelity.

Willy’s False Idea of Success

Willy’s third main flaw is that he is constantly trying to be someone else and has a false idea of what it takes to be successful. This desire to be someone else is evident in the movie when Willy argues with Howard for a sales position in New York. Willy reveals his desire to be a salesperson and recounts meeting a businessman named Dave Singleman, who could sell from a hotel room at 84 years old, over the phone, to just about anyone, and Willy wanted to be like him (Death of a Salesman movie). This desire to emulate others explains why Willy never truly advanced in his job for over 30 years. Instead of focusing on being himself, Willy was too busy trying to be Dave Singleman.

Another example of Willy trying to be someone else is seen throughout the story as he attempts to live up to his brother Ben’s idea of the American Dream. This is evident when Willy calls upon Ben at the beginning of the story and asks, “Ben, how did you do it?” The scene then changes to a happier setting, and Ben replies, “I have a faulty view of geography. I went to Alaska, then I headed due South and ended up in Africa. I walked into the jungle at 17 and came out at 21, and by God, I was rich” (Death of a Salesman movie). This demonstrates the distorted perception Willy has of Ben’s success. Midway through the movie, Willy tells Ben, “It’s not what you do, Ben, it’s who you know” (Death of a Salesman movie). Willy idolizes a skilled salesman like Ben, believing that the American Dream is achieved by becoming rich and that the only way to do so is by knowing people and being well-liked. It is evident that hard work was not a priority for Willy, leading to him losing his job.


In the end, it is evident that sixty-three-year-old Willy did not come close to accomplishing the American Dream. One word to describe Willy’s approach to the American Dream would be lazy. If Willy were not lazy, he would have pursued a promotion to alleviate his financial struggles. He would not have attempted suicide multiple times, and he would have learned to respect and be true to himself. The irony of Willy’s decisions is observed when his son Happy decides to follow in his “unhappy” father’s footsteps. If Willy truly achieved the American Dream, why did he have to run away from his loving family and caring friends?

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