Death of a Salesman
Lies and Deceit Theme
The Lomans are all extremely self-deceptive, and in their respective delusions and blindness to reality, they fuel and feed off of one another. Willy convinces himself that he is successful, well liked, and that his sons are destined for greatness. Unable to cope with reality, he entirely abandons it through his vivid fantasies and ultimately through suicide. Linda and Happy similarly believe that the Lomans are about to make it big. Unlike the other members of his family, Biff grows to recognize that he and his family members consistently deceive themselves, and he fights to escape the cycle of lying.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- What compels the Lomans to deceive themselves and one another?
- How does self-deception function as a coping mechanism for the Lomans?
- Compare and contrast instances of attempted deception between members of the Loman family with instances in which a Lomans try to deceive someone outside of the family (for example, Willy’s deception of Linda as opposed to his deception of Howard). How are the outcomes different?
Chew on This
Willy, Linda, and Happy use self-deception as a means to mentally escape the reality of their lives when they are unable do so physically, as Biff and Ben do by moving out of New York.