© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman


by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman Theme of Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Like Susan Boyle and Selena, Willy Loman is a dreamer of epic proportions. His dreams of material success and freedom dominate his thoughts 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 at least they maintain their ability to distinguish hopes from reality. Biff struggles against the force of Willy’s dreams and expectations more than any other character, and we don't blame him. How'd you like to have a guy like Willy as a dad? Talk about unrealistic 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.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search