Willie Lowman is a character that most anyone can identify with. He hastwo sides to his life; On one side he creates an image of beingsuccessful, well liked, and bold. On the other side he feels old,unsuccessful, defeated and disliked. He maintains the successful imageto comfort his wife and friends. This veil of success becomes thinnerand thinner until he lingers between fantasy and reality of the cruelworld, often changing back and forth in the course of a conversation.The core of Willie^s slow painful demise into nothingness is based uponhis beliefs.
Willie thinks that success is not what you know, but whohe knows and how well he is liked. These beliefs he instills in hissons, who find themselves adrift and meaningless just like theirfather. In addition Willie sees the world changing, and his owninability to change with it, will seal his fate. He misses the openland and the smell of flowers in the summer, the pollution and highrise apartments add to Wil! lies dismal existence. An example ofWillies shift from fantasy to reality is during his conversation withhis wife about the Chevy. He thinks the car is fantastic, the best everbuilt.
Later he and his wife discuss some bills that were paid, andwhen told about the bill to get the Chevy^s carburetor fixed, he saysthat they ought to prohibit the manufacture of the car.Willie Lowman is finding himself less and less capable. He dreams ofmaking it big and has visions of Uncle Ben who gives him advice on howto get rich, but never the kind of advice Willie wants to hear. Willieis concerned about his image. He is a great showman who can brag andflaunt like the best of them, and as witness to the hard truth of hisfailure he continues to weave fairy tales and live in fantasy. Williewants his sons to be better off and more successful than him, but hehas already corrupted them, and they too claim achievements well beyondreality. Biff comes to the reality of his position in life in theopening of the play.
He knows he is not cut out for the business world.Biff prefers to move back to Texas and work on a farm. Although herealizes working on the farm won^t make him successful, he knows thatit^s his calling in life. Happy who is fairly stable and comfortable inhis work, prefers to continue with the charade, and the deception so aslong as it! makes life easier for him. Although his sons will not besuccessful, I think Willie Lowman did the best he could. Willie is notto blame for his sons disappointments, although he has delayed theirsuccess by giving them false ideas about success.
The family situation is that of the standard dysfunctional family. Themother is upset by her sons because they have no respect for Willie andshow no concern for his decline. Willie loves his wife, but oftenmistreats her, cuts he off in mid conversation and belittles her.
Biffbegins to hate his father because of the constant pressure to succeed,along with his fathers adultery and abuse of his mother. However Biffstill cares very deeply for his father deep down inside. Willie^sfavorite son is Biff; however Biff is also a continual source ofdisappointment for his father because of his inability to asserthimself in the business world. Happy is most like his father in the waythat he much prefers fantasy over reality. Happy is willing to continuewith pretending everything is all right so as long as it makes lifeeasier. The conflict is Willie versus nature. Nature being theenvironment and Willies inability to change and conform to it^s dynamicand changing nature.
The characters in this play are easily understoodbecause of their similarity to most people who find themselves washedup in this game called life. People watching the play can easilyidentify with these characters who represent the average working classfamily. Nobody wins in the end because it^s real life. The father killshimself, hoping that the insurance money will send his family on theirway to success; and in actuality the insurance money from his deathwill heal no wounds, or right any wrongs.Bibliography: