Dreams and Happiness in “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
People often find their truest happiness when they are pursuing their dreams. But to find their happiness, they must first obtain an appropriate dream for themself. If one is unable to discover the appropriate dream for themself they will not be able to obtain the highest degree of happiness. Within “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, Willy attempts to find happiness by living the dreams of Dave Singleman, a successful salesman Willy had read about. Rather than searching for his own dreams, he lived a life chasing the dreams of someone else consistently putting on an act of happiness along the way. If one is unsuccessful in finding their true aspirations and dreams in life, the purpose in one’s life will not be fulfilled and this will result in a lifelong deficiency of happiness.
Growing up, Willy did not have much of a father figure in his life after his father had left him at a young age. This had a negative impact in his life as he always chased the dreams he thought his father would have had for him throughout his entire life. Because Willy’s father was absent in his life and his mother presumably worked long hours to support Willy, Willy’s brother Ben and herself, Willy had an insufficiency of attention in his life. This insufficiency of attention growing up is what caused Willy to strive for a world where he is well liked by everyone, which is quite ironic. He always pushed the idea of “being well liked before everything else in your life” to his kids as well and that was evident with Biff especially. Willy adopted the idea that he could become a salesman after he heard about a salesman by the name of Dave Singleman, he felt his happiness could be attained if he could be like Dave. He liked the idea that he would be able to “Pick up the phone and be remembered and loved by so many different people.”
Willy was fascinated by American dream and the idea that all a man needed to do was be well liked, bear a smile and a shoeshine and success and happiness would soon follow. Although this was not quite the case in Willy’s situation as your dreams can only take you as far as they have been suited for you. Willy is always lying to his wife about how well known he is in the cities he visits and how well he has been doing on all of his business trips, perhaps even fooling himself to give him a false sense of hope and happiness. The reality is that Willy has been consistently borrowing money from his friend in order to get by, and he makes very few sales and that makes him unhappy. He clings to these dreams that are not even his own, without realizing his own personal skills and ambitions in life and following them.
For Willy to be happy, he had to convince himself that he was successful as a salesman. He is always seen attempting to persuade his sons that he’s successful at what he does and that he will be “bigger than Uncle Charley” one day. If you ever find yourself needing to convince yourself of your success without seeing it with your own eyes, you must become aware of the fact that you are not pursuing something that is intended to be for you. Unfortunately for Willy, he was unable to comprehend that he was following something not meant for him.
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