The play, Death Of A Salesman, is a tragedy not only in the liberal sense of the Greeks, who thought that any play that was serious and dignified was tragic, but also because the main character of Willy Loman qualifies as a tragic figure.
The stories of monarchs are stirring, but the story of the common man Willy Loman is more stirring because his problem of “having the wrong dream” is more alarming because it can happen to anyone. For a man to marry his mother such as Oedipus did is much more remote than for a common man to make the wrong career choice.
Willy Loman works hard to provide for his family and to give his son Biff a good start in life. Willy believes that if he keeps selling he will be liked and, therefore, rich. Willy says “…It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it – because personality always wins the day.”.
Willy has been selling himself by putting on his personality everyday of his whole life. Charlie tells Willy that “The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.”.
If Willy had sold his carpenter work he might have been more successful, but, instead, he has been suffering a downward spiral by trying to sell his personality. The irony is that he has wasted his life by trying to sell the wrong product. He worked so hard to gain wealth “…on the basis of being liked!…”. that his own family suffered.
When Willy Loman finally realizes to sell the real self (not just the mask), by actually dying for the money, he is not there to share the joy. Willy says “Oh, Ben, I always knew one way or another we were going to make it, Biff and I!”. This is true and tragic irony.
The true value conflict for Willy Loman is that of materialism versus inner happiness. Willy Loman could have had inner happiness had he chosen to follow his heart, by doing carpentry work and living in the country, instead of chasing after money for its own sake and living in the city to do it.
Willy did have the wrong dream. Working with his hands, as Ben says, is “Not like an appointment at all. A diamond is rough and hard to the touch.”. Willy needed to work at something, such as carpentry, that he could put his hands on. He needed to create, but was stifled by his environment. He would have been much happier working with his hands and living where the earth was open and clean.
We can learn a lot from the play Death Of A Salesman. It is so important to do what you love to do. Make sure you’re selling the right product or service and also be proud of it. Do your due diligence including checking out the forum and calling the owner. If you’re working at home it’s important to have the right tools, programs, and services at your disposal so that you can really enjoy what you’re doing. You don’t need to “die trying”.