Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman Willy Loman Quotes
WILLY: Biff Loman is lost. In the greatest country in the world a young man with such—personal attractiveness, gets lost. And such a hard worker. There’s one thing about Biff— he’s not lazy.
WILLY: [with pity and resolve]: I’ll see him in the morning; I’ll have a nice talk with him. I’ll get him a job selling. He could be big in no time. (Act 1)
Willy's reflections suggest complete faith in the notion that in America, anyone who works hard and is personally compelling is destined to succeed. Beyond that, they have a right to succeed. By the end of the play, however, it becomes apparent that that isn't necessarily true.
WILLY: There’s more people! That’s what’s ruining this country! The competition is maddening! Smell the stink from that apartment house! And the one on the other side… How can they whip cheese? (Act 1)
Willy insists that his family's lack of success is due to population growth and not his faulty vision of the American Dream. Do you think this is true? How much has increased competition made the American Dream harder to accomplish?
WILLY: You and Hap and I, and I’ll show you all the towns. America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ‘cause one thing, boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own. This summer, heh? (Act 1)
Willy's characterization of the American people as kind and virtuous to anyone who is personally attractive demonstrates his utter faith in his twisted version of the American Dream. Willy is a slave to the delusional idea that he is in fact the poster boy for that dream—that he has "made it."