Death of a Salesman – Dysfunctional Family

A Dysfunctional Family from Death of a Salesman “We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house. ” This quote is said by Biff Loman himself. Willy Loman is the father of Biff and Happy Loman, and the husband of Linda. The Loman’s are an average working class American family. In the play, The Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, the Loman’s go through very difficult circumstances throughout the play. These circumstances are not exactly obvious but they are shown throughout the play. The Loman’s are a very dysfunctional family, they are not able to be honest with one another, and also it is very difficult for them to get along.

Lastly, Biff and Happy’s father Willy Loman has his mind set on the American dream also known as “The perfect life”. He is completely delusional and is forcing his boys to fulfil the same dream. In the play The Death of a Salesman, we realise that the Loman family are not exactly a normal family, they have a difficult life. They are not able to keep an honest relationship with one another. Biff and Happy lied to their father about Biff’s stealing Bill Oliver’s pen; Biff also lies to his father about having a follow-up appointment with Oliver.

Accompanying material:

Willy lies to his family about the hose he had hidden in the basement, years before; Biff had lied to his parents about why he had had no address for three months because he could not tell them he was in jail. Finally, the most traumatic experience in Biff’s life was made worse by his father’s lies. When Biff found his father in the hotel room with one of his buyer’s secretary, Willy told one lie after another to cover up the truth of his betrayal to Biff and Happy’s mother. Willy says that the woman was a buyer. She lives in the room down the hall.

Her room was to be painted because she showed merchandise to customers in her room. Biff buys none of it, and this incident ruptures his and Willy’s relationship permanently. It is the first time Biff realizes what a liar his father actually is. In Biff’s words he describes his father as a”phony little fake. ” The characters are finally starting to realise that they are living a life filled with lies. Another downfall to this dysfunctional family is that it is very difficult for them to get along. Biff does not respect his father Willy; therefore they do not get along.

Willy expects his sons to be successful but they turn out the complete opposite. He believes his boys are great and cannot understand why they are not successful. As Biff’s father gets older, he has trouble distinguishing between the past and present – between illusion and reality – and is often lost in flashbacks. His flashbacks are usually of Biff’s senior year of highschool, which was when most of the family’s conflict begins. It first starts with his affair with a woman who was a buyer; Biff finds out and is disgusted by his father, which is mainly the reason why they do not get along.

Willy’s mind is eventually filled with suicide thoughts due to the unsuccessfulness of his boys, causing him to think that if he dies it would benefit his family more because of the money they will receive from the insurance. Throughout they play, all Willy Loman talks about is the “American Dream’. Willy believes that personality, not hard work and innovation, is the key to success. Willy usually checks up on his boys to make sure they are well-liked and popular. An example would be that his son, Biff, admits to making fun of his math teacher’s lisp.

Instead of punishing Biff, he was more concerned about his classmate’s reactions. “I crossed my eyes and talked with a lithp”. “(Laughing. ) You did? The kids like it? ” “They nearly died laughing! ” Willy’s version of the American Dream did not turn out the way he wanted it. Despite his son’s popularity in high school, Biff grows up to be a drifter and a ranch-hand. Willy’s own career falters as his sales ability flat-lines. When he tries to use “personality” to ask his boss for a raise, he gets fired instead. Willy’s “definition” of the American Dream is all wrong, due to the way his own sons turned out to be.

In the play The Death of a Salesman, it is a play of how one dream can affect your whole look on life, that dream can either make your life or break it, it all depends on how you pursue it. It is a tragic play, the Loman family faces a lot of difficult circumstances due to all of the lying, betrayal and the one dream Willy is trying pursue for his family. Willy then confuses the difference between reality and illusion, he is so caught up in trying to reach the perfect life, which was the “American Dream”, that he lost track of himself and his own family.

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