Saturday, March 12, 2011

Death of a Salesman


Death of a Salesman is the story of Willy Loman a business man in New York City. Even though he is 63, Willy must work every day making little money to support his family. The story begins on a night when Willy returns to Brooklyn after a failed business trip to Boston. Willy now old has a hard time traveling far distances for his job and it is wearing on him. Willy who has worked at the company for almost his whole life hopes that his boss Howard will take pity on him and give him a job in New York. Willy’s sons Biff and Happy are home for a visit causing Willy much grief. Biff who Willy invested all his hope in has failed to live up to his father’s expectations. Throughout the story Willy relives the past through a series of day dreams or hallucinations; this is the first clue to readers get that Willy is not mentally stable. Willy cannot except the future and is stuck reliving memories of the past. Willy is never more than a meagerly successful salesman and this kills Willy. Willy’s dream is to become a rich and successful salesman and he has the same dreams for his sons. He and his sons are both unsuccessful so far but Willy believes he is always on the edge of a break through. Willy cannot understand how Biff became a failure after being a high school football star with potential. In his childhood Willy saw Bif as a sucess but now he was a lazy failure. Willy wanted Biff to become like his older brother Ben who Willy frequently day dreams about throughout the story. Ben became rich at a young age and became the envy of Willy. Biff and Willy constantly fight and Biff seems to care little for his father. After one of their fights Linda tells Happy and Biff that she is worried about their father. She says he now talk to himself a great deal and has attempted to commit suicide. The boys become worried and try to and a way to cheer up their father. One day Happy comes up with the idea that him and Biff go into work together in the sporting goods business. Happy tells Biff to ask his employer in high school Bill Oliver for a business loan. Willy seems excited by the idea and immediately begins giving Biff all the tips he can think of. Willy believe things are looking up and when he wakes up the next morning Linda tells him the boys want to take him out to dinner that night. Excited, Willy announces that he is going to ask Howard Wagner give him a New York job. Willy goes to work and asks Howard for the job but Howard declines. Even though he has worked there for almost his whole life and was good friend with Howard’s father, Howard declines and ends up firing Willy. Willy is crushed and doesn’t know what to do so he decides to visit his neighbors son Bernard who was about Biffs age and hung around with him as a child. Bernard is now the successful business man Willy wished Biff would become. He asks Bernard why Biff turn out to be such a failure. Bernard asks Willy what happened in Boston that made Biff decide not to go to summer school. The audience sees in one of Willy flashbacks when Biff caught Willy with a mistress in Boston. Before the incident Biff wanted to go to summer school and still play football in college but after he didn’t care about anything anymore. Biff finally realized the problems with his father’s ideals and didn’t want anything to do with them. In the back of his mind Willy fells responsible for ruining Biffs life and it haunts him daily. Willy leaves Bernard’s office and heads to the restaurant looking for a little good news. Happy and Biff arrive at the restaurant before their father and Biff tells Happy that Bill Oliver didn’t even remember him. Upset at his father’s unrelenting misconception that he, Biff, was a salesman for Oliver, Biff plans to relieve Willy of his illusions. Willy enters, and Biff tries gently, at first, to tell him what happened at Oliver’s office. Willy blurts out that he was fired. Stunned, Biff again tries to let Willy down easily. Happy cuts in with remarks suggesting Biffs’ success, and Willy eagerly awaits the good news. Biff gets mad when he tries to tell his father the truth but he won’t listen. Willy goes to the bathroom and Happy starts flirting with some girls and leaves with them. Biff gets mad and storms after them leaving Willy alone in the restaurant. When the boys arrive home later that night Linda is furious at them for leaving their father. She tells them to stay away from their father who seems to be going crazy. Biff and Willy have a touching conversation where Biff expresses his love for his father. After this Willy is filled again with hope for his son’s success. Willy decides to himself the only way he can help his son is to kill himself so his son will receive the insurance money. Willy then gets in his car and commits suicide. Barely anyone show up to Willy funeral leaving his family to greave over his unfortunate death. Biff says he feels sorry that his father had the wrong dreams and never knew himself.
1) Do you think it is does more harm then good to chase after dreams that you can never seem to achieve?
2) Do you think it dangerous to force your ideals on others, trying to shape them to become like you.




21 comments:

Eric Y 13-14 said...

For questionone, I believe it does more good than bad to chase after what seems to be unachievable dreams. The main reason I believe this is because this way there will always be a purpose in life. Also I believe this proves that nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.

For question two, I do believe a forceful persuasion is bad. Now one lacks the ability to become unique and never truly express their own values.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

yesss. I'm the first comment.


I feel it is a tough decision when one must choose between their values or their dreams. When people are young and ready to make the most of their future lives, they make goals for themselves that they are set to accomplish. Yet at some point within their journey, they may come across a situation where they go against their own beliefs or values to achieve their specific goal. I believe this is wrong to compromise goals against values because people who feel so strongly about their goals should also feel strongly about achieving these in an ethical and moral way.

KatherineS13-14 said...

1) I believe that people should always chase their dreams, no matter how impossible they seem. If the dream seems impossible, and you achieve it, it makes it that much better. If you never achieve it, you will probably have still done some great things in the attempt to accomplish the impossible.

JessieW 11-12 said...

2). I think it's dangerous to force your ideals on people. They could never be their own person. Also, this might cause them to rebel a lot, and who knows what they would do to be different.

tyler k 13-14 said...

I feel that its better to chase a dream and fail, then living life always wondering if you could have accomplished your dream.

Cieran B. 5-6 said...

1) Yes it does do more harm for it takes over a person, they become consumed and obsessed that no matter what they can be successful. Through the blind ambition a person can make terrible choices which makes it worse and harder to achieve that dream.

Erika B 13-14 said...

1. I believe it is always good to pursue a dream that may be slightly out of reach. As everyone who has posted before me has said, when those seemingly out of reach dreams have been achieved, it just makes them that much more worthwhile. Even if the dream is small, it is important to pursue it because you really never know what the outcome may be until you try.

2. I do believe it is dangerous to force your ideals onto others. They are YOUR ideals, not anyone elses. If they choose to believe the same things you believe on their own, that's great. But you should never push someone into believing something they don't. All that will result from that is hurt and pain. We are all individuals because we all think and believe different things.

Kali D. 13-14 said...

1. I think it does more good then harm because it can show you hard work and determination. You should always go after what you want no matter how hard it is to reach. If you achieve your goal, it gives you more motivation to keep making goals and try to achieve them.

Mike B 13-14 said...

I agree it is important to chase after your dreams but at the point when it is doing more harm then good you should stop. Willy continued after his dream and he suffered mentally and his family fell apart. Willy's problem was he was unable to understand he was doing more harm then good.

Mike B 13-14 said...

I also belive it is dangerous to force your ideals on other. Just because you believe somthing it doesnt give you the right to force someome else to think like you do. Forcing others to think like you do can cause resentment and does more harm then good. We should let people think for themselves.

Jacob B 11-12 said...

I believe it is very dangerous to force your ideals on someone. It is possible that they can become a person that they did not want to be. Just because one person believes something is right doesnt mean everyone does.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

2) It is dangerous to force your ideals upon others because they may not want to see things your way. And if your ideals do influence that persons life negatively, they may come to hate you for it.

Laura B. 13-14 said...

2) It is dangerous to force your ideals upon others because they may not want to see things your way. And if your ideals do influence that persons life negatively, they may come to hate you for it.

Steve S 13-14 said...

I think the answer to both of these questions would be yes, if they subject yourself, or others, to harm. I also think that forcing your ideals onto others is not very advisable because, as Erika pointed out, there are YOUR ideals, not any one else's

Deanna K 5-6 said...

1) It can go either way in my opinion. it is harmful because you could be spending your time more wisely instead of chasing a dream you can never achieve. but on the positive side, you know you are doing your best to fulfill your dream. if you did nothing about it, i believe you would be more mad at yourself than trying and failing.

2) It is definitely dangerous to try and force your ideas onto someone else. Ex: colonization. The outside culture forces their ideals on the indigenous people. The indigenous are always harmed in the end.

Natalie S Mods 5-6 said...

1) I think there needs to be a balance when a person is chasing their dreams. It is good to have goals and to push yourself but you must also be realistic. It is not healthy to push for something completely out of reach but a person needs to dream and have hopes. If people did not dream big, the world would not be a very exciting or accomplished place.
2)I think it is dangerous to force ideas on others. It is one thing to share your views and beliefs and hope that people in your life have similar views of issues but you cannot make someone believe something unless they want to. I do not think a person would appreciate someone being so close-minded and only looking at issues through their perspective.

Kenneth C.M. 13-14 said...

1) I think it depends on if you know you can't achieve the dream. If there is any hope however I think chasing dreams sort of fuels the spirit

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

I think it is dangerous to try and chase dreams that you can't acheive right away only if they are unreasonable or unrealistic. I think it is good to try and chase something that is challenging or that you can't always obtain right away. It can teach one person to have patience, determination, and how to learn the confidence to believe in yourself during the struggle to try and reach your dreams. I think learning to set goals in order to reach your dreams also can teach one person many ways of problem solving and ways of approaching issues. It is definately true to say that although one person may work hard to try and reach a certain goal or dream, it might not always work out in the end. However, this can be a good thing because people will learn that life isn't always fair or easy.

Nick E. 13-14 said...

1. I depends on what dream you are specifically trying to achieve. In most cases, in which you are attempting to reach a goal/dream that is impossible to attain, you usually end up letting yourself down in the end. This can be very damaging to someone's hopefullness and self-confidence. However, try not regret it and focus on the fact that you have learned from a mistake.

Rachel T said...

1. I think it depends on the situation, because if you try to chase after dreams that are unrealistic then it's more likely that you're setting yourself up to get let down. At the same time, if people didn't chase after what they want most then everyone would be miserable. It can be good and bad to have high aspirations.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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