Compared with other Characters Literary Journalists have spent lots of timeresearching different characters in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, andhave focused primarily on Willy Loman, since he is the most complex character inthe play. There have been many different theories about the relationship betweenhim and the other characters of the play. Certain Journalists have gone beyondthat point and have compared him with other characters. These comparisons allowthe reader to see Willy from a different perspective, which also allows thereader to understand the position of Willy Loman. D. L. Hoeveler has explainedWilly's standpoint to the other characters in Death of a Salesman asPsychomachia. From Milkman to Salesman: Glimpses of the Galut by Dan Vogelcompares Willy to Tevye, another fictional character, while John S. Shockley hasproved that Willy "shares a number of important traits with the mostsuccessful American politician of the late twentieth century, RonaldReagan" (quote). All of these authors have tried to show and explain WillyLoman in a different perspective by comparing him to other characters. If onewants to understand a character in any sort of literature it is necessary tolook at the other people who he/she has contact with. Hoeveler has analyzedWilly by looking at the other characters and has shown how they are affected byhim during the play. According to Hoeveler, Willy "has forced his family toplay the parts that he has designed for them. They are all characters in adream, Willy's dream of reality" (634). All the characters in the playrepresent a certain trait, just as in the play Everyman, written in the late15th century. The reader is shown that the individual characters "representaspects of" Willy's "splintered mind" (632). Linda is a voicethat guides and acts as a security for Willy. His son Biff represents thefailure of Willy to achieve the American dream. Willy's other son, Happy, is apersonification of "Willy's belief in success at any price" (635).Ben, Willy's brother, represents the dreams of financial success. Willy iseasier to understand if one knows what he is. He is a man that has enforced hisideas unto his family and therefor has caused his personality to be dividedamong the other characters to an extent. The Requiem at the end of the playshows how all the characters are seemingly freed of Willy, "but each of thecharacters continues to embody the values that Willy demanded of them"(635). They are actually not free at all because they have become Willy. He isbest explained when the deeds he has done to others is analyzed. This was whathas been done first in order to get a better insight on how Willy thinks andacts towards the characters around him. One of the famous characters thatMiller's Willy Loman has been compared to is Sholom Aleichem's creation, Tevyethe milkman. This is a very rational comparison, which is discussed in DanVogel's article From Milkman to Salesman: Glimpses of the Galut, because it iseasier to understand a character if another person is in almost the samesituation. Willy Loman and Tevye are both heroes that have to deal with"life's debilitating existentialist ironies and insults" (174). Theway they deal with their problems is not by brute force on a battle field. Thedifference is that Tevye is defeated with dignity whereas Willy choosesdestruction. There is an obvious difference between the strength of characters.Both are salesman that have to deal with the bursting of their dreams. Tevye'sdaughters all end up doing something he does not approve. One commits suicidebecause of love, the eldest marries a tailor that dies young and the third onefalls in love with an exiled Marxist. Tevye invests money in the stocks and endsup losing all his money. Willy, who is used to a wonderful life is confrontedwith apartment buildings all over the place, a car that can be thrown away, ason that has run away and a loss of his job. The real important differences andsimilarities between these two characters are noticeable when the reader looksat the way they both deal with these problems. Both have a major problem withself esteem. They are constantly in search of themselves. Tevye and Willy boastabout themselves and then realize that they are no better then anyone else. Thisbothers them a lot. "Attention, attention must be finally paid to such aperson" (56) as Willy because "he's a human being, and a terriblething is happening to him" (56). This attitude is the same one that SholomAleichem has towards Tevye. Also, both have raised a child that becomes arenegade. Biff runs off to become a worker on farms and Chava converts toChristianity. Tevye and Willy are very sad and still long for their childreneven though they have been betrayed. When the renegades return home they areembraced with the family again. The fathers act very similar towards theirchildren. The prime difference is that Tevye would never go as far as committingsuicide because of his problems. Willy has a weaker character and therefor ismore prone to commit suicide, which he does. This weakness can also come fromthe difference in both beliefs. Tevye believes in God and is not forced to facethe destruction of this belief. Willy, on the other hand witnesses the completedestruction of his belief, the American dream, through Biff. Hence, he is muchless stable than Tevye. "For Willy, acculturated to the American Galut,there is no Messiah to hope for, only to be liked if not well liked by the sonsof men; and no God, only the bitch goddess Success" (177). The reader hascome another step closer to fully understand Willy and his behavior by seeinghow his acts have been compared to the characters in the play and anotherfictional character existing in another place and time. Hence, the last step isto compare Willy to a historical character that most people are familiar with.In the article Death of a Salesman and American Leadership: Life Imitates ArtJohn S. Shockley has compared Willy to "the most successful Americanpolitician of the late twentieth century, Ronald Reagan" (quote). The firstsimilarity is that "both were selling themselves and the Americandream" (quote). They dreamed this dream and believed that the fulfillmentof a man should not be hindered. To believe the American dream and live by itboth men had to deny certain facts. Willy tried very hard to still believe thathis sons were not failures and that he was also not failing as a salesman. Hejust had to deny these facts. Linda constantly gets to hear lies from Willyabout how popular he is and how much money he is making. Ronald Reagan who grewup with an alcoholic father who had failed to achieve success. "As Willyloved telling jokes to highlight his personality, Reagan loved entertainingothers" (quote). The denial of unpleasant facts continued throughoutReagan's whole life. These denials had a bigger effect on Willy because he wasnot as successful as Reagan. The search for close friends was very hard for bothcharacters, and they never were able to achieve this goal. In the end, the onlypeople that stood by them were their wives. Willy and Reagan had the sameproblem with children. Reagan had great problems with his adopted son anddaughter. This is partly due to the fact that both had no father figure to helpthem out. The differences of the two compared characters are also very importantin determining what Willy is not. Ronald Reagan had a better chance in becominga success because he inspired people and made them feel good about themselves.Another disadvantage of Willy is that he does not know what is happening to him,whereas Reagan has a very good idea about himself and the position he is in.Reagan also faced career problems but was rescued by friends and supporters.Since he "was quite willing to accept help and funds from anyone"(quote) he was able to keep his self-confidence. Nobody tried helping Willywhich caused his self-worth to collapse. "Ronald Reagan, in sum, was whatWilly Loman wanted to be: well-liked, at least in a superficial way;entertaining without being a bore; successful; handsome; and not fat"(quote). Hence, "Willy Loman committed suicide. Ronald Reagan becamePresident of the United States" (quote). Looking and analyzing a characteris always important to understand the character in any type of literature. Thereader must compare the character to other people and find out what isessential. Many Literary Journalists have done this to see Willy Loman from manydifferent perspectives. The reader then draws a conclusion that he/she issatisfied with. These three authors have exhibited how a character is to beseen, which should make all the readers very happy.BibliographyBrucher, Richard T. "Willy Loman and The Soul of a New Machine:Technology and the Common Man." American Studies 17 (1983): 325-336.Ferguson, Alfred R. "The Tragedy of the American Dream in Death of aSalesman." Thought 53 (1978): 83-98. Hoeveler, D.L. "Death of aSalesman as Psychomachia." Journal of American Culture 1 (1978): 632-637.Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin, 1976. Rosinger,Lawrence. "Miller's Death of a Salesman." Explicator 45.2 (1987):55-56. Shockley, John S. "Death of a Salesman and American Leadership: LifeImitates Art." Journal of American Culture 17.2 (1994): 49-56. Vogel, Dan."From Milkman to Salesman: Glimpses of the Galut." Studies in AmericanJewish Literature 10 (1991): 172-178.

We will write a custom essay sample on

Death Of Salesman And Willy Loman specifically for you

for only $13.90/page

Order Now