Willy Loman, a sixty-year-old traveling salesman, is having trouble lately because he can't seem to keep his mind on
the present. He keeps drifting back and forth between the past and present, looking for exactly where his life went askew.
He ends up being demoted to a commission-only position with his company.
Willy begins to wonder what opportunity he
may have missed or which wrong turn led his life to this downward spiral.
Willy always believed that being
was the key to success, but now he realizes that the only things he can count on are the things he can touch. This was
something that his brother, Ben, a man independently wealthy by the age of twenty-one, tried to tell him years ago.
However, Willy insisted that his success would come from being well liked.
Throughout his life, Willy attempted to show his sons the keys to success and to prepare them for success in the
business world. Willy pretended to be an important, respected, and successful salesman in order to acquire the love and
respect of his family. He even started believing that he was as important as he had pretended.
Whenever he couldn't live
up to that expectation, and reality contradicted the image he tried to put forth, his whole life began to crumble. He realizes
that he is a failure and he had wasted his life. Not only that, but he has taught his sons the wrong things.
Nowadays, Biff is a bum who can't hold a job outside of being a farmhand, and Hap is an assistant's assistant who is
just as deluded about his importance as Willy. He taught his sons the wrong things, and now their lives are average as
well. Willy and Biff are always at odds because Biff hasn't lived up to Willy's great expectations for him. Biff was never
given the proper direction to fulfill these expectations. Willy encouraged him only to be well liked and popular; Biff
learned he never had to work for anything or take orders from anyone, and as a result, he couldn't keep a job in the
business world. Integrity was never an emphasized characteristic in the Loman household.
At this time Biff has come
home and he realizes that he's just an ordinary guy.
This clutch of new knowledge prompts an entire overhaul of the values taught to him by his father, and Biff wants to
expose the lies Willy had been telling for years. Willy won't have it. After a series of long arguments, Biff decides it
would be best if he leaves for good; he will never fulfill his father's dreams. Willy, now an unemployed wreck, decides
that he must do something brilliant to prove to Biff that his (Willy’s) life wasn't a farce. He kills himself so that Biff can
use the insurance money to start his own business. Willy believes that Biff will deem his father a hero, and appreciate the
sacrifice that he made for his son, unfortunately, he didn’t. The insurance doesn't cover suicide and only Willy's family
and their two neighbors attend the funeral. In the end, Willy's legacy is one of a broken man, whose life had become a sad