"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller - What was wrong with Willy's dreams?

Essay by da_lozmeisterHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2003

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One of the essential conflicts in Arthur Miller's drama "The Death of a Salesman", is addressed in the quote uttered by Biff; "He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong." Although Willy's dreams had their problems, they weren't wrong, they were just carried through in the wrong ways.

Willy is a man who wants the best for his family. He wants his sons to be successful and his family to be happy. In doing so, he will lie and cheat, as long as they are happy. For example, when Willy is told that Biff is going to fail maths and therefore not graduate, Willy tells Bernard that Bernard will just give him the answers.

"BERNARD: Where is he? If he doesn't study!

WILLY: You'll give him the answers!

BERNARD: I do, but I can't on a Regents! That's a state exam! They're liable to arrest me!"

This quote shows that Willy has allowed Bernard to give Biff the answers to exams in the past.

Willy has allowed Biff to cheat in order for him to be successful.

Another aspect of Willy's dream for his boys to be successful is personal attractiveness.

"WILLY: The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead."

Willy believes that personal attractiveness and being well-liked, and therefore well-known, will get you everywhere. He sees his boys as Hercules, strong, attractive and popular boys.

"WILLY: Like a young god. Hercules - something like that...God Almighty, he'll be great yet. A star like that, magnificent, can never really fade away." (talking about Biff)

Within this belie, Willy creates himself to be someone who he is not. A strong, respectable and popular salesman.

"WILLY: Go to Filene's, go to the Hub, go to...