Possibly the most important and popular question that most people ask after reading Death of a Salesman is ‘who is to blame for Willy Loman’s death?’ In the article “who is to Blame for Willy Loman’s Death”, Danqing Zheng explains several possibilities that lead to Willy’s death. She believes that the American dream and the great Depression is the possibilities that lead to that poor man’s death, and she also believe Willy’s “tragic life is also victimized by his own flaws in his character.”
From an existentialist point of view, I believe that this salesman’s death was caused by himself and not the society. Again, by understanding the term, “Bad Faith and Falsehood”, I will argue that he is hiding the truth from himself. In fact, Willy just ignores the facts and lives with his own illusion.
Willy's death has been explored using different approaches in the article. Zheng suggests that the American dream is a possible reason that explains the death of Willy. She suggests that the American dream is “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Zheng 2). Zheng argues that media shapes the business world, suggesting that people should earn a lot of money. It cannot be denied that Willy could have been misled by this notion. He invested most of his lifetime into the business world since he was a boy, looking for more money and elusive respect. Willy spent around 45 years, searching for these things in vain.
However, it is not surprising that people like Willy endeavored to achieve such success without realizing a breakthrough. The truth is that a significant percentage of the American people failed to live the American dream. Since sections of the populations failed to achieve success, it is arguable that the act of killing oneself is personal. Clearly, the death of Willy had nothing to do with the American society.
The other reason that could be brought forward to account for the death of Willy is the great depression. In the play, Loman reflects to a happy past when his son, Biff was having good prospects as an upcoming footballer. However, people such as Loman adopted the hallucinating approach in order to escape from the realities of the times. Apparently, the happy times were around 1928, which was a year before the Great Depression. Before the Great Depression, the United States experienced considerable progression in terms of economic and social wellness. However, after the depression, factories across industries began closing down as the global economy shrank. The collapse of the Wall Street herald an era of economic hardships. A vast majority of people was rendered jobless and the search for solutions took top priority. As the depression' effects were felt, it became apparent that the American dream had become shattered. This view is held in regards to a wide spread of desperation as opposed to optimism which characterized the American society. Based on this establishment, Willy could point on the economic collapse as a reason for his hopeless actions (Zheng 3). However, several Americans were facing similar circumstances although they kept going. Consequently, it is untenable to argue that the Great Depression led to his death.
Willy Loman should take the responsibility of his own death. He is person that should to blame for his own death. Ben, a brother to Willy, entered the jungle at the age of 17and when he came back, he had gathered much that made the latter envious. Instead of taking out the positives from the success that Ben had hinted, Willy used the dream to enhance his movement to the grave. As Willy tried to expedite his achievement of the dream, he adopted misleading philosophies. For instance, Wily thought that, “a man can end up with diamonds here on the basis of being “liked” (Zheng 4). At the end of the play, Loman realized he has failed. In essence, Willy was just obsessed and he was irresponsible for his actions. Although, America was facing a difficult time, there were people who were doing well. His brother Ben exemplifies this observation. According to Satre, nobody is responsible for what preceded his or her existence because we do not choose to come to the world, but we are “thrown” into it (Manley 47). However, we hold responsibility for every all that follows. Hence, the tragic end to the events is directly attributable to Willy's illusions about life and his inability to take responsibility for his life.
As Carson states, the use of drama (as a theme or plot in a story) key source in the learning process as it a vital representation of the varying dimensions of society and phases of human life (Manley 34). Arthur’s piece on the death of a salesman is among the highlights of the dramatist style in writing. In the article, the death of Loman leaves much to be desired as the issue raises several questions regarding the American society. The piece of drama depicts how societal values become ingrained into the lives of people to an extent that some characters decide to lean to them dangerously. However, based on Satre's theory, each individual is in charge of his or her affairs. Thus, no person is allowed to come up with excuses to justify whatever actions that they undertake. Thus, based on the theory, Loman's life is lost because of his own faults.
Similarly, I hold the same view that Loman's death had nothing to do with the American dream. I hold this view since several people find themselves in such a situation, but opt to solve their issues amicably. Thus, the inability to face life allows Loman to end his life.
According to Satre, “We shall willingly grant that bad faith is a lie to oneself, on condition that we distinguish the lie to oneself from lying in general” (Manley 46). People who have “bad faith” are just lying to themselves. In addition “the essence of the lie implies in fact that the liar actually is in complete possession of the truth which he is hiding.” Liar always knows the truth behind their lie. Applying the this theory, Willy Loman who has bad faith always believes that he did so good on sales. When Linda asks him to move his job from New England to New York, he says that” they don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England.” In his deep heart, he knows that he didn’t do well anywhere, but he still lies to himself that he belongs to New England and it needs him to be there.
Willy also lies to himself that being liked from others is the key to succeed. He does not only believe it, but also taught his children with this wrong theory. His wrong theory ruined his children. Willy told his children that his future business would be bigger than uncle Charley. He says “Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not liked. He’s liked, but he’s not—well liked.” Willy’s theory really influences Biff. Biff believes that people likes him, and he believes that Bill Oliver will lend him some money. Willy ignores the fact that his son stole a football from the school. Instead, he tells his son that because coach likes Biff, he would not get punished. Biff and Happy’s failure are all Willy’s fault. Therefore, Willy should take responsibility of his actions.