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Themes

Willy Loman is a dreamer of epic proportions. His dreams of material success and freedom ultimately dwarf the other aspects of his mentality to the point that he becomes completely unable to distinguish his wild hopes from rational realities in the present. Happy and Linda also are extremely optimistic, but they maintain their ability to distinguish hopes from reality. Biff more than any other character struggles against the force of Willy’s dreams and expectations.

Questions About Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

  1. Consider Charley’s assertion that dreaming is inherent to, and a necessary quality for, a salesman. Does this seem to hold true in the play?
  2. How does the extremity of Willy’s dreams contribute to his own downfall?
  3. Why does Happy defend his father’s radical aspirations and hopefulness?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Dreams function purely as a form of self-deception in Death of a Salesman.

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