Death Of A Salesman: Character Analysis

When it comes to analyzing characters from the popular play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, there is one character that stands out as supremely unresolved. Willy Loman is one of the most frustrating characters in all of literary history. While he is an endearing older man who presumably just wanted to do right by his family, as an audience member you are privy to information that the family might not ever know. Some of the most important character elements to know about Willy Loman include the fact that he is a husband, a father, and committed to striving for greatness in his career; however, he never achieves the level of success that he wished for. Furthermore, as the story unfolds you learn that he was pretty much a terrible father and husband his whole life.

While the story begins with Willy constantly claiming that he has work to do and clients that he is selling to, as an audience member or reader, you quickly learn that he is actually struggling to keep his job. He pushed his standard for “greatness” off on to his sons and treated them poorly when they did not achieve what he wanted for them. However, the boys are unaware of the fact that Willy did not achieve success either. It is a painful relationship that the man has with his sons, and he holds them to standards that even he is not capable of reaching. Willy is in complete denial through out the entire play. Mr. Loman talks about how legendary and successful he is, and the audience is told by his new boss the truth that he is actually washed up and not employable any more. As an audience member, you are shown scenes of Willy cheating on his wife, and then you are shown scenes of him forgetting that he did so.

Through out the whole play the audience is struggling with the fact that Willy had become an abusive, hurtful, cheating, man; however, in his old age he forgets the reality of his life until he is faced with the fact that he was being fired. Willy does not come to terms with the fact that he did not treat his family the way that they deserved before he kills himself in his final act. There is never any effort to apologize or be forgiven, and this leaves audience members torn when Willy meets his demise.