Willy Loman

Willy has lived a life full of hopes and expectations. But his aspirations are not unreal or fantastic.  His anxiety is the anxiety of every man; his concern is the concern of every parent for his sons. But he is a man who cherishes false dreams. He is disillusioned too. He thinks that he has countless friends that everything will be alright, that he is a success, and that his boys will be success too. His ill-fortune is that he has gone through life as an adolescent, as someone who does not know who he actually is. He mixes personality with profession; his energy with protection. His main ambition is not only to be liked, but well-liked. His ideal for himself and for his sons has stopped with an easy, back slapping, sports loving, and locker room popularity. More than ruining so that one has become a woman chaser and the other a thief, his standards have turned both boys against their father. So he remains an epitome of “American Dream” with all its positive and negative effects and characteristics. This paper will analyze all these characteristics and will take into account his persona that corresponds to the American dream as well the traits that bring his tragic downfall.Willy Loman is a disillusioned sixty-three year old man who has trouble distinguishing between past and present, and reality and illusions. His illusory beliefs draw an iron curtain before his sensibilities and he refuses to see the reality of his abject conditions. His tragedy lies in the fierce determination to fight an impossible battle and to seek facile solutions to his severe economic problems. In his relentless pursuit of an unrealistic dream, Willy Loman submerges himself in a complete disengagement from reality that brings an end even more tragic than his life. “Loman wants success, but the meaning of that need extends beyond the accumulation of wealth, security, goods and status” (Jacobson 247) and hence there is tragedy.It is the story of a salesman who is now in the dusk of his lifetime. Willy Loman is a salesman who lives in Brooklyn but travels extensively for his job. He is sixty-three years old. He is completely exhausted both physically and mentally and is on the verge of collapse. He has a feeling that he can no longer fulfill the demands of his profession. His wife Linda is his sole support and he loves her a lot. There are of-course flashes of courage and bravery at times; but it is just like occasional lightening in a life behind which the shadows of self-destruction in stint loom large. Though he has the love and support of his wife but even then he feels hollow and terribly lonely. Willy’s tragedy is summarized in Charley’s statement which provokes a great deal of sympathy and pity in the hearts of the readers and audiences! “You don’t understand. Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He does not put a bolt to a nut he doesn’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riddin’ on the smile and a shoe-shine. And when they start not smilin’ back – that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream boy. It comes with the territory.”(45)Willy Loman’s tragedy does not lie just in his miserable economic condition, but also in his misplaced sense of pride. In the play he takes loans from his neighbor Charley to make both ends meet, but refuses to accept the offer of a better job from him. His warped sense of pride comes in the way of his chances to improve his conditions. His refusal to accept reality is a tragedy bigger than his dismal life, and it exasperates his son Biff with whom he had a troubled relationship. Willy refused to accept that his sons are also ‘failures’ such as him, and in order to make their lives better he falls into a trap of further hopelessness.