In Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, Willy Lomans life seems to be slowly deteriorating. It is clear that Willys predicament is of his own doing, and that his own foolish pride and ignorance lead to his downfall. Willys self-destruction involved the uniting of several aspects of his life and his lack of grasping reality in each, consisting of, his relationship with his wife, his relationship and manner in which he brought up his children, Biff and Happy, and lastly his inability to productively earn a living and in doing so, failure to achieve his American Dream.
Willys relationship with his wife is clearly a cause of his collapse. Willy neglected to demonstrate honesty in his relationship with his wife. The reader is told of Willys past and how on business trips he would deceivingly find himself a woman to spend the night with. When Willy is no longer able to make a living he borrows money from his friend, Charley, and claims that its money that he had made. As Willys condition slowly deteriorates, he sets up tubing, which he plans to hook up in a fashion with intent of suicide. He neglects to tell Linda how he feels. Due to Willys lack of honesty with Linda, she too isnt honest with him.
She is aware that Willy is borrowing money from a friend, but doesnt say anything about it. After Willy is unable to complete a drive to New England, due to his obviously deteriorating condition, Linda avoids reality and makes excuses for Willy. As Miller wrote, Maybe its your glasses. You never went for your new glasses(13). As Linda became knowledgeable that Willy was planning to kill himself, she didnt confront him and acted as if nothing was wrong. Clearly, if Willy was more honest with his wife, she would have returned the openness, and perhaps talked out the obstacles Willy was facing.
The way in which Willy brought up his children was another factor that led Willy to his defoliation. Willy brought up his sons with little focus on school. Self-image and pride were enforced before education. As his sons grew up, they had little foundation, and were left clueless. Willy, however, was in his own fantasy world. He is unable to distinguish between reality and illusion. He believes that his sons are great men who have what it takes to be successful and beat the business world. However, he is mistaken, for in reality, his sons arent, and cant be successful.
Willy himself couldnt cope with the outcome of his boys and often contradicted himself. At one point in the play, Willy says, Biff is a lazy bum(16). Moments later in the same conversation with Linda, Willy adds, Theres one thing about Biff, hes not lazy(16). Even when confronted by his boys, Willy is unable to deal with the truth, that his sons wont amount to very much at all. He ignores reality very well, and instead of pointing out that Biff hasnt established himself yet, Willy tells Biff, Youre well liked, Biff. And Im telling you, Biff, and babe you want(26).
The boys are clearly aware of their status and the status of their father, and Happy is found putting Willys personality in a nutshell, Well, lets face it: hes [Willy] no hot-shot selling man. Except that sometimes, you have to admit hes a sweet personality(66). Obviously, Willies failure to bring up his children effectively, and his delusional thinking including denial of reality helps fortify his depleting condition and confusion. The single most weighted factor that edges Willie to his demise is his inability to make a living and achieve his American Dream.
After being a salesman for many years, Willy just cant cope with the fact that he hasnt been successful at all. He believes that he is a terrific salesman. His imaginative thinking wont let him accept the fact that he has become a failure instead of a wealthy businessman. Willy believes that to be well liked is the means to being successful. Willy also struggles through confusion and contradicts himself, Ill go to Hartford, Im very well liked in Hartford, the trouble is, Linda, people dont seem to take to me(36). This shows how Willy has no self-image, and therefore cannot survive in the business world.
His lack of grasping the obvious, is truly a downfall. One critic states, We do not learn about Lomans dilemmas through Lomans eyes, because we know more about his failures than he does(Elsom 376). Clearly, Willy is foolish to not be able to decipher that he is a failure in the business world. Since Willy cant earn a reasonable living to support his household, he relies on borrowing money from his neighbor, Charley. When Willies boss, Howard, relieves Willy of his position, he is completely distraught and in disarray.
Charley often offers Willy a job, however he is too senseless to ever except the offer. In fact, in reply to Charleys offer, Willy responds that he already has a job, purely out of stubbornness and foolish pride. Willys American Dream was to become a successful businessman, this is never achieved, and as Jonathan Moniaci stated, Willy has lost at trying to live the American Dream. Biff and Happy are both aware that Willys dream was to become number one, and Biff spelled it out to his father that he should take that phony dream and burn it.
Willys failure and lack of reality were a major factor to his decline. Clearly, Willys destruction is due to his own doing. He failed to establish an honest relationship with his wife. Willy brought his children up based on his crooked beliefs and his imaginative cookie cutter world. Willy also failed to make anything of himself, achieve the American Dream, and face reality. All of the previously mentioned factors were in complete control of Willy throughout his life, however his foolish pride and stubbornness lead to the wrong choices, which ultimately lead to his downfall.