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Reality Vs. Illusion

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Reality vs. Illusion

In 1938 Arthur Miller began to write plays after he graduated from college. All My Sons was his first successful play that gave him recognition from critics and audiences. He then won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for Death of a Salesman and became a very successful playwright of the 1940s and 1950s. His plays are unique in the way his characters use ordinary dialogue and deal with ordinary family problems. Death of a Salesman is a play about the significance and value of the American dream of success. Most of us view the American dream of success as living in the country with a family and a house with a white picket fence. This is why many people came to America. They came with dreams of finding success and being able to live happily with their family and be financially secure. Willy Loman is the man character of a salesman in the Millers play. He is what most people call a tragic hero. He is an old salesman who has been unable to become successful in his life. He is very old, in a dead end job, his sons have not become successful, and he is losing

touch with reality. In the end he commits suicide because he realizes that he is worth more dead than alive. Willy fails to realize the reality of his life. He believes in the illusion that he and his sons will one day achieve great success. Arthur Miller uses the theme of reality verses illusion throughout the play, Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is blinded by the illusion that he and his boys are successful men with great potential. He fails to see the reality of his failures in life as a father and a businessman.

Willy Loman is a hard working salesman who unable to achieve success. He travels all over during the week and is barely able to make enough money to support his family. He has two sons he is very proud of and hopes that they will also be successful. Willy Loman has failed to realize that he is not a successful salesman. He has an illusion of himself as this successful businessman that everybody respects, but in reality he is not respected at all. He Tells his boys that he is successful and well liked by saying, "Some day I'll have my own business, and I'll never have to leave home any more...And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England... I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own"(1312). Willy tells his boys he is great success and everybody likes him, but when his wife asks him about his profits the truth about his success is revealed. He first tells his wife Linda, "I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston"(1314). Then he says, "Well I-I did-about a hundred and eighty gross in Providence...Oh, I'll knock'em dead next week. I'll go to Hartford. I'm very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me"(1314-1315). This is a perfect example of how Willy is blind to his reality. He says he is well like, but then tells his wife he has trouble selling because people do not seem to like him. Willy continues to uphold the illusion of his success and will not come to terms that he is failing as a salesman.

Another example of reality verses illusion is seen through Willy and his son Biff. Biff is a well-liked boy in high school, a good athlete, and Willy's pride and joy. Willy has great expectations for Biff and has always told him about the success he will achieve. Willy says to Biff, "Because you got greatness in you, Biff, remember that. You got all kinds of greatness"(1331). Biff ends up failing math in high school and looses his scholarships. He then goes out west and works on a farm. He doesn't make very good money and is still unsure of what he wants to do with his life. Even when he returns home Willy still believes that he is destined from great success in business. He even tells people that he is successful. "Well, he's been doing very big things in the West. But he decided to establish himself here"(1342). Even though Biff is unsuccessful and is making no effort to do more with his life, Willy still encourages him and tells other people how successful his son is. Willy chooses not to see Biffs true reality. Willy holds onto an illusion of the past when Biff was destined for success. In his mind Biff will someday be successful and support the family.

Biff decides to confront his father about his true self towards the end of the play. He tells Willy, "And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody!..Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!...I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash can like all the rest of them....Pop! I'm nothing!"(1362-1363). Biff knows that he is not successful and will never be a businessman. He is tiered of being fed with illusions of success

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