Death of a Salesman Within the play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, pride becomes a major theme and eventually the protagonists' downfall. This theme becomes more evident as the play progresses until the climax when the full impact of pride is revealed. Death of a Salesman not only tells the tale of a man losing his job, but also his pride.
Willy Loman is a man of mid sixties who has worked hard all his life to provide for his family. Everyday he drives up and down New England hoping to make a sale to bring home money to pay his bills. It his his belief that to be successful, one must be well liked and a hard worker. It is this belief that the foundation of his pride is laid upon.
He is a man that is proud to be a salesman as he provides for his wife and two sons.
It is this pride that keeps him blind from the changing times and his own family.
As Willy's sons, Happy and Biff were growing up, it was important to Willy to set the example that their father was a successful man. He would come home to tell them tales from the road about his success. "You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. "Willy Loman is here!" That's all they have to know, and I go right through."(pg33) In this sense, he not only fueled their pride and respect for him, but also his own. Blinded by this pride, Willy is never able to see that he has grown to old and lost all the connections to buyers he once had before. No one knows him any longer and is unwilling to buy product from him.
Although Willy has an incredible amount of pride for himself, he also holds pride for his sons. As Biff prepares to play football at Ebbett's Field, Willy is overcome with pride and joy. "You realize what this means?.... You're comin home this afternoon captain of the All-Scholastic Championship Team of the City of New York." (pg88) Although it isn't a bad thing to have pride for ones' son, Willy never loses the image he has of Biff as a teenager. When Biff is all grown up, Willy still sees the energetic boy with high hopes and success in his future. However, Biff is in fact the opposite having no success and little hopes.
Not only is Willy blinded by his pride, but Biff also loses sight through pride. He himself is convinced that at one time he was successful and could make it anyday in the business world. Through this he arranges to meet with a sports store manager Bill Oliver to try to get a business off the ground. However, he is shocked to realize that he has no real connection with Bill and that his image of success was all false. As crushing as this realization is, Biff is saved by knowing that his pride is false and he must work hard to gain pride once again. Biff tries to also save Willy with little luck. "And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! That's whose fault it is!" (pg 131) In the end, it is fair to assume that while pride is a good thing to have, too much of it will do harm. For Willy Loman, his pride was too large and too outdated for his own good. He carried along his pride from his past and ended up living in it. For his family, this became unbearable and for himself, unbreakable. Thus Willy Loman was consumed by his pride and found himself unable to live without it.