Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is a tragedy about the American dream. The play tells the story of Willy Loman, a salesman who is struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the play, Willy exhibits a lack of morals and ethics.
He is dishonest with his family and friends, and he is willing to sacrifice anything for his own gain. As a result, Willy’s life is in shambles. His relationships are strained, his career is in decline, and he is slowly losing his grip on reality. In the end, Willy’s lack of morals and ethics catch up with him, and he takes his own life.
While Death of a Salesman is set in the present day, its themes are still relevant today. The play is a reminder that it is important to have morals and ethics in order to live a successful and fulfilling life. It is also a warning against the dangers of living without them.
One’s personality is largely formed by one’s parents and other people with whom they live. One’s actions are a reflection of his or her upbringing. All activities of others in one’s environment have an influence on one’s behavior. That is especially true with regards to parental influence on a child.
Most ethical and moral guidelines are passed down through the generations from parents. According to sociologists, American ethics have deteriorated considerably as time goes on. Parents in America have become less strict with their children, and the strictly enforced code of ethics has softened over time.
In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller portrays the lack of morals and ethics in American society. Willy, the father, is a prime example. He is unethical in his business practices and lacks any moral fiber. Linda, Willy’s wife, is a victim of her husband’s actions. She enables him and does not have the strength to stand up to him. Biff and Happy, Willy’s sons, follow in their father’s footsteps. They too are unethical in their business dealings and lack any moral compass. The characters in Death of a Salesman illustrate the deterioration of ethics and morals in America.
Miller was born in 1915 into an era where society was changing rapidly (Sikov, 2002). Immigrants were flooding into America in search of a better life. The country was in the throws of the Great Depression. The Stock Market had crashed and people were struggling to make ends meet (Sikov, 2002). With so much change happening, it is no wonder that Miller’s view of society was one of decay. In Death of a Salesman, he portrays a society that is crumbling from within. The family unit is disintegrating and people are becoming more self-centered. Ethics and morals are no longer important.
Willy Loman is the perfect example of an unethical person. He has no moral compass and will do whatever it takes to close a deal. He is also a liar and a cheat. He is not above using underhanded methods to get what he wants. For Willy, it is all about the sale. He does not care about the people he is selling to or the products he is selling. All that matters is that he makes the sale.
The relationship between Willy Loman and his two sons, Biff and Happy, in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman portrays the ramifications of parental slackness with regards to ethics. Rather than setting a good moral example for his sons, Willy Loman established an undesirable standard of behavior. When Biff was in high school he was the star of the football team. One morning, without even thinking about it, he took a football from the locker room. When Wily became aware of Biff’s deeds, he did not punish him.
Instead, he took Biff to lunch and told him that it was okay to steal as long as no one found out. This event set the tone for the remainder of Biff’s life. He grew up to be a man with no direction, little motivation, and few morals.
While Death of a Salesman does an excellent job of portraying the effects of bad parenting on children, it also highlights the importance of ethics in our society. The play shows how a lack of ethics can lead to disastrous consequences, both personal and professional. For Willy Loman, his unethical behavior led to the ruin of his career and ultimately his death. For Biff, his lack of morals led to a life of aimlessness and disappointment.
It is important to note that Death of a Salesman is not advocating for a life without ethics. Rather, it is a cautionary tale about the importance of instilling strong moral values in our children. We must be careful not to make the same mistakes as Willy Loman, or we will end up paying the ultimate price.
Biff, on the other hand, was encouraged to run an errand. He learned that the oach would most certainly congratulate Biff on his initiative (29-30). In another scene, Biff and Happy stole timber from a construction site near them. Willy was proud of his sons, so he allowed them to steal. This might be considered an unethical act, or it could be called worse yet – Willy’s praise for their actions prevented Biff and Happy from knowing that stealing is wrong.
Instead of having a role model that would teach them morals and ethics, Biff and Happy learned that it was acceptable to take what did not belong to them. As a result, Biff’s life became a string of immoral and unethical actions.
When Linda told Willy about the affair, he responded by telling her she should have known (137). Linda’s lack of knowledge does not excuse Willy’s actions. Furthermore, when Willy had an opportunity to end the affair he chose not to. Instead, he continued the relationship with The Woman even though he knew it was wrong. Linda put up with Willy’s infidelity because she loved him, which is an admirable quality. However, Willy’s lack of morals and ethics prevented him from seeing how his actions were causing pain to the one person who loved and supported him.
Willy’s unethical behavior is also evident in his business dealings. For example, Willy takes kickbacks from the people he does business with (144). In addition, he overcharges his customers for substandard products (145). Willy’s dishonest business practices are not only unethical, they are also illegal. Despite this, Willy continues to engage in these activities because he believes they are necessary to be successful. Unfortunately, Willy’s lack of morals and ethics prevents him from seeing that his actions are wrong and that they will eventually lead to his downfall.
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is a play about the lack of morals and ethics in American society. Willy Loman, the main character in the play, is a good example of this. Willy was not raised with any morals or ethics. Instead, he learned what was right and wrong from his own experiences. This caused him to have a skewed view of right and wrong. For example, when Biff stole the football, Willy told him he was likely to get a good coach (29). Later, when Biff and Happy steal lumber from a construction site, Willy is proud of them (50).