Willy drifts fluidly in between reality and fantasy fluidly sometimes having two conversations at once. Willy’s dementia is an important part of this role and attributes to his obsession with success and popularity and especially his denial of failure. Willy has passed on his denial of failure to his sons Biff and Happy who both deceive their parents and themselves about their place in the world. Biff is the only person in the family who has the self-awareness to realize he’s failed. This is a hard realization for anyone to make but especially coming from a success oriented family such as the Lomans where his father emphasized the traits of the businessman.
As an old man, Willy is currently having a nervous breakdown that he frequently daydreams the past and often idealizes it. He is at his best condition when he hears Biff is coming home, but he becomes worst when Biff arrives the house. This contradictory shows Willy’s uncertain feeling toward Biff: he is afraid that if Biff hates him. Willy daydreams not just because he wants to escape from the unhappy present, he also regrets about the past; he refuses to knowledge that he had destroyed Biff’s future by letting him failed math in high school so that Biff couldn’t graduate. Willy always loves Biff and wants him to have a better life.
There are a great many comparisons to be drawn from this play, and compared to the novel, The Great Gatsby. However, the main one is that both pieces of literature showcase the downfall of the main protagonist Willy has a very skewed idea of what success is. He believes that shallow, superficial values, such as physical appearance and surface level likeability, are the full measure of how a person succeeds. This veritable blindness keeps him from recognizing or appreciating his family, and the few good things in his life. An example of this is the scene where Wally is celebrating his son’s likeability, popularity, and athleticism in a flashback to Biff’s high school days.
This leads to Willy fatal flaw in Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy – his hamartia throughout the play – his self delusion. He is obsessed with living the American Dream, with being successful, with materialistic success and being well liked – the whole American Dream. He fails to see that he is the opposite. As Fletcher says in Death of a Salesman ‘ Miller dramatically presents the complex moral world of mid-nineteenth century American values and beliefs’. Juxtaposed to this is his older brother Ben.
Dreams play a vital role to the development of plot and character within Death of a Salesman; it drives the main characters with their need to obtain their aspirations to a point of obsession that dominates their lives. This never ending pursuit of a non-existent perfection is what leads Willy, Biff and Happy and those around them into a false idea of happiness. They believe that wealth and reputation are the path to success, unfortunately this road leads to only poor and selfish choices leaving everyone unsatisfied and full of regret. Willy’s dreams for himself and his sons set the stage for the novel’s sequence of events. They are the reason that Willy cannot seem to find success, and when he cannot meet his high expectations for himself, he lies and cheats in order to keep the unachievable ideal alive instead of being satisfied with less than perfect.
Willy is encouraging Biff to steal again oppose explaining him his mistake. In addition, this can be considered as clue that tells that reader that Willy is confessing to Ben and the reader of knowing that his future is holding on by a string. Meaning that, Willy knows that he will have trouble with his sons in the future. Meaning that, Willy knows his sons will not work and not achieve the dreams that he had once for them. This can be noted when Willy and Linda are in the kitchen.
On the other hand Jim the slave truly cared for Huck and had helped him look deep inside himself and caused an internal battle between Huck's conscious and heart. There is still an argument to be made for which is Huck's "true father". Pap was introduced in chapter 5 and the first thing he says to Huck is '"You think you're a good deal of a big-bug, don't you?"' (28). Pap hadn't seen Huck for a decent time and did not appreciate that he was dressed nicer than his father or that he was educated.
Judging a book by its cover is a mistake because it leads to wasted time. The Great Gatsby, a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a book that reflects that same idea of beauty always falling short. Through a semi-reliable narrator, Fitzgerald writes about obsessions and appearances to show his readers how the “American Dream” is falling apart. Right from the start, Nick, the narrator, introduces himself by giving insight on the way he was raised. His father had told him that whenever he felt “like criticizing anyone…[to] just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had” (Fitzgerald 1) .
He constantly repeats, ’when I was seventeen, I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one, I walked out, and by god I was rich’. The repetition and boastful tone of this statement not only makes us, and Willy, extremely jealous of his success, but also emphasises the fact that he was only successful because of chance. But hold on- that’s not right! According to the American dream, people are supposed to gain success if they are personally attractive or work hard for it. Ben did not gain success as the American Dream defines, and so his experience proves that the Dream does not apply to everyone,
However, ironically, Biff does flunk that math test, which would not allow him to graduate from high school and attend university. Willy’s effect on Biff is the source of this “false pride” as mentioned by Howard. When Willy says, “Be liked and you’ll never want”, it again reinforces his value for popularity and attractiveness. These two concepts are also the causes of Willy’s need to be “well liked”. Being Well Liked Motif Willy is at the bottom of the totem pole in a capitalistic world.