Saturday, August 30, 2014

Willy is selfish and his reputation is his life

Willy is an incredibly selfish and shallow character. Throughout the entire play his entire motivation is driven by his reputation. He's overly concerned with being liked (as mentioned by someone else in their post), and loves his kids based on how they're a reflection of him. He never wants the outside world to know that there are issues within his family. He won't let Biff tell Bill Oliver that he was working on a farm in the west, that he was there working in business. And when Bernard asks how Biff had been doing, he stays vague and just tells him he's been working on "big things" in the west. When Biff says that people laugh at him, he comes back with a list of places to go and shout Willy Lohmans name and what kind of respect he has. Everything comes down to his reputation, because that's how he measures a man. Willy doesn't want his son's success for the sake of his son, he wants it for the sake of his reputation as a father. He thinks reputation is everything. He makes the comment that Charley is liked, but not "well liked", and is shocked at how well his son Bernard's life turned out despite neither of them being "well liked". He's even shocked when he finds out Bernard is working on a supreme court trial and didn't mention it because that's something to be proud of, and to him everyone should know when he is doing something important. (I originally had a different direction in mind for this post, but it kind of strayed away more into and expansion on the other post someone made about being liked. I think I like the points in this direction more though, they're a little more concrete and make a little more sense than where I was going).


  1. You make a good point that Willy doesn't actually care about Biff's success for BIFF, he cares about how it makes him look as a father. If Biff fails (or because a field worker which is as good as failing) that means that Willy failed. We all know the sentiment that parents want their kids to succeed at what they themselves failed at - it's because then it's like they never really failed at all. This is what Willy wants, he wants his final shot, his last chance. It's all self centered and like so many parents that put these pressures on their kids, they're setting the kids up for failure. They'll never be successful enough or rich enough or good enough to make up for their parent's insecurities.

  2. Willy is the perfect example of a buffoon. He really just doesn't get it. His views on life are so skewed towards being successful, and full of pride. If anything at all, he is an example of what not to become. He's been so brainwashed toward believing that succeeding and bragging about it are important. I like how you note he is shocked that Bernard doesn't seem to gloat about his achievements. There is, however, a moment to boast your accomplishments, but it's a rare occasion. Willy really did not understand that.