Every family has its problems. There are families with minor problems. They might have to cope with a disobedient teenager or an irritable child. Then there are families with major problems. They have to deal with lack of communication, secrets being kept from one another or possibly a temperamental father.
An example of this dysfunctional family can be found in the tragic play Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller. The family presented in this play is the Loman family. Willy Loman, the father, is a distressed man who is unable to see the truth in his misleading life.His wife Linda does nothing but worsen his problems by making excuses, when she knows very well the dilemma her husband is in. Willy’s teachings and ethics have caused his two sons, Biff and Happy, to lead illusive lives as well. When you live in an illusive world, your life will be full of misery until you are ready to face reality.
Ever since Willy Loman met the renowned salesman, Dave Singleman, he was inspired to become a salesman himself. He believed that selling was the greatest career a man could have. However, Willy’s career turned out to be much different than what he had anticipated.In spite of it all, Willy refused to believe that he was a failure and that he was never meant to be a salesman. After Willy was fired from his job, he had a new purpose.
He felt that he had to leave something behind to be remembered by. Willy’s objective was to plant a garden so that whenever his family ate the fruit it had grown, they would remember him. Willy’s blindness from reality made him forget that the soil no longer supported growth. He had also blindly decided that he would commit suicide in order to receive money from his life insurance.Yet, he failed to recognize that the insurance policy would not cover a suicide. Even when his brother Ben tried warning him that they might not honour the policy, Willy refused to face the truth.
“How can they dare refuse? Didn’t I work like a coolie to meet every premium on the nose? And now they don’t pay off? Impossible! ” (Miller, pg. 126). Willy led an illusive and deceptive life that was filled with tension and anxiety. He had many opportunities to face reality and admit his faults, but his pride got the best of him.
Willy was not the only one who had opportunities to end his distress.His wife Linda also had several chances to put an end to the problems. She was aware that Willy’s car “accidents” were actually intentional. She had also discovered a rubber tube in the basement attached to the gas heater. She realized that Willy had put it there and had probably contemplated to commit suicide by gassing himself to death.
Even when Willy himself said that he was unable to properly drive any more, Linda did not try to help Willy face his problems: Willy, after a pause: I suddenly couldn’t drive any more. The car kept going off onto the shoulder, y’know?Linda, helpfully: Oh. Maybe it was the steering again. I don’t think Angelo knows the Studebaker. Willy: No it’s me, it’s me.
Suddenly I realize I’m goin’ sixty miles an hour and I don’t remember the last five minutes. I’m – I can’t seem to – keep my mind to it. Linda: Maybe it’s your glasses. You never went for your new glasses. (Miller, pg.
13) Linda made excuses for Willy, when she should have helped him confront his problems. She too can be blamed in part for Willy’s deterioration and destruction. Biff and Happy Loman were victims of Willy’s misconception of life.They were taught many improper morals. They idolized their father so much, that they believed every word he said. Happy was the less-favoured son of the two.
He tried hopelessly to get attention and appreciation from his parents and lived in Biff’s shadow for his entire life. For this reason, Happy tried desperately to be successful so he can finally get the appreciation he sought growing up. He, like his father, was trapped in an illusion and blinded from reality. Happy believes that he is an important member of staff at work, yet he does not realize that he is insignificant.
“You big blow, are you the assistant buyer? You’re one of the two assistants to the assistant, aren’t you? ” (Miller, pg. 131). Biff never really wanted to be in the business world, but he felt pressured to become a salesman. He much rather enjoyed to be out in the open on a ranch, relishing life outside.
At the end of the play, Biff finally comes to the realization that he has been living in an illusion. He makes a decision to change his life from then on. Unfortunately, Happy was not so quick to accept the reality. He continued to live in an illusion, believing that he was going to be successful:“I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream.
It’s the only dream you can have – to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna winning it for him. ” (Miller, pg. 138) If Happy had faced the facts and changed his life, as Biff did, he might have been able to finally achieve something in life.
However, due to Happy’s ignorance, he will live miserably in his illusive life and will continue to hopelessly strive for success. When people don’t want to face the truth, they shield themselves from reality by living in a false illusion.However, when you live in an illusion, your life will be full of misery and it will continue to worsen as time goes by. The main character’s life in the play is an example of this.
Willy Loman was blinded from the truth to the illusive world he had created. He was incapable of saving himself because he had lived in that world for far too long that he truly believed everything he thought. His wife Linda not only further worsened his problems by helping him confront his problems, but she as well suffered from anxiety and stress it caused her knowing the dilemma her husband was in.Their sons Biff and Happy also lead illusive lives. They both had dismal lives due to the immoral lessons Willy had taught them when they were young. They both continued to suffer because they could not see the truth.
In the end, only Biff was able to break free of the illusion and change his life. Unfortunately, Happy, like many people in the world, are still unable to change their lives because of their ignorance. Until they can finally deal with their problems and face reality, their lives will slowly, but surely, deteriorate.