Thursday, August 28, 2014

Week 2

The beginning of the play shows the Mother and father talking after work, talking about what a drive he has day in and day out.  This talk turns into him reminiscing on his past, remembering good and bad, and his wife assuring him everything is alright.  When he starts to talk about his kids he seems distraught and sad, complaining about being lazy, then he starts going on about how he wants great things for Biff. Once he starts reliving Biffs past, I start to realize what is going on here.
To me he is obsessing over Biffs past because he can't focus on Biffs present state of doing nothing.  Even when Biff was a great athlete in school, he ignored his academics, thinking his ticket was through football.
Willy's inability to live in the present is pretty depressing.  He is constantly living in the past because of denial and regret.  Once his wife begins talking about his suicidal actions this just gets even darker.  His mind is lost and to him his life was a failure.
This play made me uneasy because of how realistic it is.  These things happen in real life and I'm sure a very high percentage of people can relate to someone in this play.  I personally had a friend whose parents let him do whatever he wanted in high school because he was a good athlete, they thought he was on top of the world.  Last I hear about him was that he was in and out of rehab for drugs. As far as Willy, I know that people really do work themselves to death, and by the time it's too late they wished they did things differently.
It makes me rethink how to live a balanced life.  When family, friends, work, money, and stress are all taking up time, at what point does happiness need to be the driving factor in life.


  1. Well I hate to say it but something I always stress to people when they demand happiness is that it's not a guarantee. We are American's and that entitles us to three essential things; Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. That means we can try but most likely won't all succeed. It's actually a depressing saying when you think of it more in that context, and Willy was pursuing his happiness the only way he understood, through his economic success. If you make money, you are successful and you are happy. But more than even that, he cared about being "well liked" not just generally liked for being a decent person, but to him a successful life was being well liked and having the people that liked you come from all over to mourn at your funeral. It was something he desperately wanted but sadly never achieved. I too know people from high school that put all their stakes in the success of their physical capabilities instead of their academia and their parents supported that, but now are also living sad lives that most likely will come to an end sooner rather than later in a tragic way. To me I live my life to be happy, if something is making me unhappy I change what I can about it in order to appreciate it more. My husband is deployed right now, trust me that's an incredibly unhappy situation that I have absolutely no control over but I don't live my life dwelling on it, I do things to bring sunshine to my cloudy days. By going to school, spending time with family and sending my husband all the love and support I can in care packages I get by. There is no perfect life filled with happiness every single day, you can only take the life you have and find your own happiness in it. At least that's what I believe, find something you love and pursue it, as a hobby, as a career, as a lifestyle whatever it is but don't become a slave to your own happiness. You can't dictate your happiness but an unachievable level of success, especially money but that will never be enough. Willy Loman had a happy, healthy family. He had a passionate son in Biff who wanted to follow his dream to work in a physical labor job, and he had a wife that truly loved him but none of that made him happy. It's truly sad, he was an unhappy man, with an unhappy life and there's no one to blame but himself.

  2. Kayla raises an interesting point... Was the problem with Willy really a lack of work/life balance or is it how he (and by extension society) defines success? If Willy had not become a salesman (interesting choice on Miller's part that could use more analysis), might he have ended up a very different man even if he was immersed in his work? Also, I saw Biff's character as somewhat optimistic on Miller's part...the one person in the play who has at least some sense of self-awareness, change/development throughout the course of the play, and the ability to see reality. Is there hope for Biff?

  3. I think Willy's choice to become a salesman is very telling - he thinks of it as prestigious and necessary when really what is it? He's showing up at peoples doors pushing things he had nothing to do with creating on people who don't really need them. He's taking money and very little of it goes to himself, it goes to people who don't have to leave their families for long drives and train rides for days at a time. He sleeps on trains and in seedy motels and for what? He's picked something thankless and superfluous and told himself it wasn't. I said this in another post but he knows what people want and not what they need.
    By doing this and then over time becoming more and more obsessed with Biff's future and this idea of being superficially "well-liked" he's taken all personality and humanity away from himself. He's trying to turn himself into the equivalent of one of his products, well-reviewed and shown off to friends. Like a shiny blender. Like Landon and Kayla said, none of this is about bettering himself as a father, husband, or person. This is about being the best product of his environment he can be. Like his successful brother, he never knew him as a man, he was much older, already successful and never around - but he sees him as the pinnacle of success, this man he really knew little about. His brother may have been cruel, lonely, tired, and sad but none of this resonates with Willy because why would a man like that be any of those things?