In order to really understand Willy Loman, from Arthur Miller’s play Death Of A Salesman, the reader must analyze the way his character is developed. Studying his thoughts, actions, how he relates to other characters and how other characters relate to him enables the reader to come to an understanding of the world in which Willy lives in. Although Willy sometimes has flashbacks, examining them, as well as his thoughts, helps the reader to understand and relate to him better. Willy had very high, but unrealistic expectations for his boys, especially Biff; he thought that they would be guaranteed success.
This is illustrated in the quote, “I see great things for you kids, I think your troubles are over. But remember, start big and you’ll end big. ” (pg. 64) Willy was convinced that Biff should become a great star and could not accept the fact that Biff had turned out less than perfect. This is demonstrated when Willy says “My God! Remember how they used to follow him around in high school? ” (pg. 16) It is easy to see that Willy thought the world was against him and that his life would never amount to anything. When he says “I’m always in a race with the junkyard,” (pg. 73) it is simple to sense that Willy is not satisfied with his life.
Willy’s actions also help the readers take a look into the world he lives in. With all his hopes and dreams for Biff, Willy never paid much attention to Happy. Any praise and acts of approval were always focused on Biff. This is shown when Biff repeatedly says, “I’m losing weight, you notice Pop? ” and Willy ignores him each time. Willy also has a lot of anger inside of him, which you can notice by his actions. When his boss Howard tells Willy that there is no job for him Willy gets very angry and bangs his fist on the desk in a rage. Willy relates to the other characters in many different ways.
With Biff, Willy feels angry, but also scared. He believes that Biff is a failure and could have had a very successful life if he only tried and Willy conveys this message to Biff quite often. On the other hand, Willy thinks that Biff does not love him, perhaps because of the affair that Willy had which only Biff knows about. In the end, Willy is quite surprised when Biff shows that he loves him. He says, “Isn’t that remarkable? Biff–he likes me! ” (pg. 133) These two characters have a very uncomfortable relationship. Willy relates to Linda in a way that reveals his character as well.
The readers get the impression that Willy thinks Linda is a stupid woman. He acts reasonably towards her physically, but emotionally he doese not show any respect for her. When she tries to speak, he is constantly telling her to be quiet and to listen, for instance he tells her, “Stop interrupting! ”, “Will you stop! ”, and “Will you let me talk? ”, (pg 64, 65) which shows he has no regard for her feelings or opinions. The other characters in this play relate differently to Willy. At first Biff desperately wanted his father’s approval, but then he realized his life had been one big lie.
He says, “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. ” pg. 104). Under the whole mask that Biff and Willy put on, the readers can tell that Biff is very angry about the affair Willy had. This makes both characters very uneasy around each other and causes them not to act like father and son. Happy, on the other hand, is completely opposite to Biff. He respects and looks up to Willy in a blind way. Happy believes everything that Willy says and wants very badly to please him. He believes his father was a great man and says “He had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have – to come out the number one man. ” (pg. 9).
Linda also believed that Willy was a great man. She loved him deeply and with all her heart. She would have believed anything he told her and did not like it when Biff treated him rudely. She told him “Be loving to him,because he is only a little boat looking for a harbor. ” (pg. 76) Willy was a very complex man. He had so many hopes and dreams at the beginning and all he wanted was for his sons to succeed. By analyzing his thoughts, actions and relationships with other characters it is easy to see that all he desired in life was to be looked up to and to be loved. Maybe there is a little bit of Willy Loman in all of us?