Willy Loman's Downfall

734 Words3 Pages
You can’t really blame a person for Willy Loman’s death, in the play The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. On the surface, Willy is responsible, but underneath society plays a role in Willy’s downfall. He grew up with this “American Dream” complex after he heard about Dave Singleman’s amazing life, as a successful business man. Shame and guilt are often mistaken for meaning the same thing towards an action. We feel ashamed when we have fallen short of what we hoped to achieve. Guilt has to do with letting others down, we fell it because we have let the person down. The tragedy of the play highlights how feelings of shame shape Willy’s sense of himself, his identity. Guilt plays a role that consumes Willy internally. Willy’s downfall is a result of his reluctance to face his shame, his guilt towards his affair and the way Biff’s life turned out, and the social pressures of success. Willy denies the feeling of shame, affecting him and his family. Willy turns to another woman out of loneliness for Linda, deeply within; his feelings of shame are related to the need of a woman. Shame, inadequacy and inferiority evince the need to “be liked and never want” (Arthur Miller 21). This is apparent within Willy and his sons. Willy is driven to commit his greatest wrong by feelings of shame that arise out of his sense of inadequacy as a man. His adulterous affair with “The Woman” in Boston, which haunts both him and his son Biff, is a desperate attempt to confirm and maintain his self-esteem. (Fred Ribkoff 123) Willy feels guilty because he let Biff down when he got caught cheating in Boston and of course he let his wife down. Willy cheats on Linda out of loneliness and he wants to feel like an important salesman because he cannot face the fact that he’s not. Willy’s pride (Biff), left him, and this shatters Willy, the guilt is overwhelming, unbearable. “Will you stop
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