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Willy Loman's False Values and Misguided Dreams (Paperback)
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Seminar paper from the year 2007 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, http: //www.uni-jena.de/, course: Classics of Modern American Drama, language: English, abstract: The plot of Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Death of a Salesman revolves around the last days in the life of Willy Loman, an aging salesman, whose pursuit of a prosperous and rewarding life for himself and his two sons, especially his oldest one Biff, comes to a tragic end. One of the reasons why he fails is because he values the wrong things and leads his life guided by wrong dreams. Willy Loman, the protagonist of Miller's classic, which critics label "as one of the most powerful and affecting plays in American theatrical history," appears to overemphasize such things as success, physical ability or personal attractiveness and looses his sense of the real forces of life in his attempt to achieve his "(American) dream. He holds onto his dream and his ideas long after they cease to correspond with reality. This is his biggest flaw and dooms him at last. In the following paragraphs, I want to explore some examples of these values and dreams which seem to dictate Willy Loman's life and also, mostly because of him, the lives of his sons Biff and Happy and will eventually lead to his death through suicide, which, in the end, "will create the fortune that his life could never accumulate." In the subsequent chapter, I will show by whom the main character Willy Loman is influenced. The question that should be investigated is: Who could be the sources of Willy's philosophy of life? After that, in chapters 3 and 4, I want to go into further detail and provide specific examples of the major motifs that Miller sustains throughout the play, which in particular are: the importance of "being well liked" and the importance physical prowess.