Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act)
BEN: And good luck with your—what do you do?
BEN: Yes. Well… [He raises his hand in a farewell to all.]
WILLY: No, Ben. I don’t want you to think… [He takes Ben’s arm to show him.] It’s Brooklyn, I know, but we hunt too.
BEN: Really, now.
WILLY: Oh, sure, there’s snakes and rabbits and—that’s why I moved out here. Why, Biff can fell any one of these trees in no time! Boys! Go right over to where they’re building the apartment house and get some sand. We’re gonna rebuild the entire front stoop right now! Watch this, Ben! (Act 1)
Desperate to impress Ben, Willy lies through his teeth and begins to believe what he is saying. How often do people really go hunting in Brooklyn? Notice too, that he encourages his boys to steal from the construction site next door so that he can show how manly he and his sons are. By encouraging them to live dishonestly, Willy undermines the moral character of his sons.
WILLY [turning to Ben]: Business is bad, it’s murderous. But not for me, of course. (Act 1)
Willy continually lies outright in order to try and impress Ben and make himself feel better. We wonder if Ben believes any of this— probably not. We're guessing that part of the reason that Willy isn't all that well-liked is because most people can see right through him.
BIFF: I guess so. I know something about it and—
WILLY: He knows something about it! You know sporting goods better than Spalding for God’s sake! How much is he giving you?
BIFF: I don’t know, I didn’t even see him yet, but—
WILLY: Then what’re you talkin’ about?
BIFF [getting angry]: Well, all I said was I’m gonna see him, that’s all! (Act 1)
Willy deceives himself into believing that Biff has already sealed a deal that his son has not yet even acted on. Willy's self-deception eventually drives Biff to lash out at his father.