In the beginning of the play, the central character, Willy Lowman, has just returned home after finding himself incapable to focus on driving. His wife, Linda, suggests that he ask for a job in New York so that he won’t have to drive so much. Willy insists, however, that it is crucial to his company that he works in New England. Willy asks Linda about his son, Biff, who has just come home after being away for numerous years. He can’t comprehend why Biff is unable to get a good Job. Soon Willy begins thinking about when Biff was a senior in high school.
He remembers how Biff was the leading light of the football team and how he was presented scholarships from numerous colleges. After Willy’s daydream ends, Charley comes in to play cards with him. While they are playing cards Charley offers Willy a job, but Willy refuses. As they are talking, Willy’s brother, Ben, appears to him in an illusion. Willy tries to talk to both of them at once and Charley can’t understand. Willy and Charley get into a quarrel and Charley leaves. Willy then turns his concentration to Ben and asks him how he became so successful.
Ben tells Willy that he went into the jungle when he was seventeen and when he came out at twenty-one he was rich. After Biff overhears Willy talking to himself, he asks Linda what’s wrong with him. Linda explains that Willy is fatigued and has even tried to kill himself. When Willy enters the scene, Happy tries to cheer him up by announcing that he and Biff are going to start their own sporting goods company. He tells Willy that Biff is going to see Bill Oliver in the morning and ask for a loan.
Willy is optimistic and reminds Biff that the most important things in life are to be well liked and to have personal attractiveness. The next day Willy decides to ask his superior, Howard, if he can have a job in New York. Howard explains that there is no room for him in New York, and then tells Willy that he no longer wants him to represent the company. Now that Willy has no job, he must ask Charley for the money to pay his insurance premium. When Charley finds out that Willy has been fired, he offers him a good job in New York, but Willy refuses.
Charley gives Willy the money and then Willy leaves to Meet Biff and Happy at a restaurant. When Willy arrives at the restaurant, Biff tries to explain to him that he has been living an illusion and will never amount to anything amazing. Willy refuses to listen to him and pretends that Biff has another appointment for the next day with Bill Oliver. When Biff tries to make Willy face the truth, Willy becomes furious and goes off to the restroom. Biff and Happy then leave the restaurant. While Willy is in the restroom, he goes into another illusion.
He finds himself in a hotel room with a woman. She is telling him how much she loves his sense of humor. Then knocking is heard at the door, and at first Willy refuses to answer it. As the knocking continues, Willy tells the woman to hang around in the bathroom. He opens the door and finds Biff there. Biff tells Willy that he has flunked math and asks that Willy talk to his math teacher about it. Biff explains that his teacher doesn’t like him since he once caught Biff imitating him in class. Biff shows Willy the imitation and they both start laughing.
The woman hears them laughing and comes out of the restroom. Willy hurries her out of the room, but not before the woman demands the stockings that Willy promised her. Willy tries to explain the circumstances, but Biff won’t pay attention. He accuses Willy of giving away Linda’s stockings and calls him a liar and a fake. The waiter at the restaurant then brings Willy out of his illusion. Willy asks if there is a seed store in the neighborhood and then leaves. Later that night Biff and Happy come home and find Willy planting seeds in the back yard.
Biff tells Willy that it would be best if they didn’t see each other again. He tries to explain that he is only a ordinary man and will never live up to Willy’s expectations, but Willy refuses to listen. Willy decided that he would commit suicide because he believes that with the 20,000 dollars of life insurance money Biff will finally be able to make something of himself. At his memorial service, we see that Willy died a forgotten man for the reason that no one apart from his family came.