Death of a Salesman Essay

2893 Words May 24th, 2014 12 Pages
Father/Son Relationships

The Nineteen-Forties was a very patriarchal era. The father was the head of the house and his life’s works were passed down to his sons. A strong relationship between a man and his sons was crucial to maintaining a healthy household. Once the relationship began to deteriorate, the entire family unraveled. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman displays how the relationship between Willy and his two sons creates the downfall of the Loman family. The relationship is constantly changing throughout the story. Biff and Happy idolize and have nothing but love for their father when they are children, but when they grow up they realize how their father failed to prepare them for the real world.

Willy Loman is
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(Carson pg. 92) Willy feels that he needs Ben’s approval for how he is raising his sons. (Centola pg. 28) He can be heard asking imaginary Ben, “Ben, how should I teach them?” (Miller pg. 36) Willy’s problems as a father are shown to be a direct result of his own deprivation as a son. (Carson pg. 89)

The father/son relationship in the play is very ironic. One would assume that a poor relationship stems from lack of love and attention from the father. The Loman family’s circumstances could be considered the complete opposite. From the day his first son was born, Willy Loman’s life goal was to become the perfect father. He becomes obsessed with his image as a father. Nearly everything he does can be traced back to somehow trying to give his sons a better life. Willy values his family more than anything else in the world and only wishes for his sons to be what he sees as successful. (Carson pg. 92) Although Willy is not a good salesman by any means, he relentlessly believes that trying his hardest at work gives others the impression that he is an excellent provider. All of his struggles, sacrifices, and even final suicide are for his sons, not himself. (Carson pg. 92) Willy pawns his diamond watch, received as a gift from his beloved brother Ben, in order to pay for Biff’s radio correspondence course. Willy even commits the ultimate sacrifice for his sons. He believes that by bequeathing them $20,000 in insurance money by

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