The tale of Willy Loman’s search for the American Dream is something we can all relate to. In Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman we are introduced to a man who’s dreams are shattered after his kids go down the wrong path. Willy still wants to see them achieve the dream that he never had, yet his two sons are unwilling to do so. In the 1951 movie version of Death of a Salesman, we are introduced to the Loman family and learn about the highs and lows of the Loman family.
The story Death of a Salesman is told through flashbacks and current events. In the flashbacks we learn that Willy was, at one point, a very successful salesman who’s eldest son Biff is thriving in school. A popular boy, Biff is the star of the football team and is set to get a scholarship to college. However, Biff flunks out of high school after neighbor Bernard refuses to give him the answers to a state exam. Biff flunking out ended Willy’s dream of seeing Biff off to college. Then there is Willy’s younger son, Happy, who tends to be in the background living in the shadow of his big brother and after high school ends up working low paying jobs and spending the nights with married women. Willy’s wife is shown to be supportive through and through all of his life. However, we learn that Willy was unfaithful to her and a brokenhearted Biff chose to let everything go.
When we are brought to the present we learn that the American Dream is something that will never happen for the Loman family. Willy gets fired from his job because his boss views him as a liability. Biff lives in the shadow of Bernard, the very man who used to help him cheat on tests and do his homework for him in high school. We learn that Bernard is a successful attorney presenting a case in front of the Supreme Court with a family. While Biff lives at home, works low paying jobs, and steals from those above him from time to time. Yet, the only reason Biff is staying at home is to please his father who does wants him to become a businessman, not a farmer like he hopes. Happy is still where Biff is, but he still looks for the approval from his parents that he has yet to receive. In the flashbacks, we see the Loman’s as the all American family living the dream. However, carelessness in choices ruined the American dream for the Loman family.
Arthur Miller is one of America’s most well known playwrights. His masterpiece Death of a Salesman shows us the consequences in youth can affect us as adults. As can parents, who are covering for their children, like Willy did for Biff all through his high school career. Arthur Miller passed away on February 10, 2005 leaving a legacy with his works.