Death of a Salesman - Willy Lomans tragedy is due more to
his own flawed character than to societie's flaws
Advancements in science throughout this century have led to
tremendous advancements in industry. Advancements in
industry, however, have not always led to advancements in
living. For some, society has created mass wealth. For most
mass society has created a standard of living unparalled
throughout histort. For Willy Loman, however, mass society
has created only tremendous greif and hardship, agravated
by the endless promise. For these reasons, his tragidy is
due more to societies flaws than to the flaws in his own
Willy Loman was host to many flaws and deficiencies ranging
form suicidal tendencies to phychotic disorders. However,
these shortcomings did not account for his tragic end, not
by themselves anyway. Soviety is to blame. It was society
who stripped him of his dignity, piece by piece. It was
society who stripped him of his lifestyle, and his own sons
who stripped him of hope.
The most obvious flaw in society is greed, the desire to
get ahead of the next guy. This malady is present on a
national level. It is the philosophy of business and
comprises the dreams of man. Sometimes, this can drive man
to great things, sometimes it can drive a man to ruin.
Willy was driven to the latter. (Not his own greed for he
was a simple man with simple dreams, but by the greed of
others.) The developers who took away the sun and gave
birth to shadows, his boss who reduced him to commission
and his sons which reduced him to a failure.
The next largest flaw in society is a lack of compassion.
This could be as a result of almost overwhelming greed, the
main culprit being big business.
"I'm always in a race with the junkyard! I just finished
paying for the car and it's on it last legs. The
refrigerator consumes belts like a goddam maniac. They time
those things."(Act 2, page 73, lines 16-19)
Willy's belief in this statement drew him to believe that
big business lacked compassion. It is because of this that
he is abandoned by Biff and disowned by Happy, left
babbling in a toilet. It is this flaw which allowed him to
die a slow death and played the greatest role in his
The third largest flaw in society (particularly American
society) is the lack of a social safety net. A net which
identifies people in trouble and seeks to remedy their
situations. A body identifies people who are a danger to
themselves and others and treats or sedates them. Couple
this with a pension plan and medical care, and Willy Loman
might not have met his premature end. He would have had no
reason thanklessly for a company, in a capicity that was
"killing" him. Instead, he could have received psychiatric
help and recovered from his condition.
It was the direct result of the flaws in society which led
Willy to his undoing. It was the greed that was
ever-pervasive around him that led to his unhappieness. It
was the lack of compassion from society which allowed his
unhappieness to flourish and which eventually consumed him.
In the end, it was the lack of a social safety net which
failed to save him from himself.
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