Death of a Salesman is a tragedy written by Arthur Miller. The majority of the play is set in a small home engulfed by buildings located in Brooklyn, New York. In the cottage lives a 63 sixty-three old man by the name of Willy Loman. Willy is a salesman that works in New England that strongly believes in the American dream, however his dementia constantly interferes with his work and his daily life. It is unsure of what Willy’s diagnosis really is, but it shares many characteristics with Alzheimer’s in which he has trouble with memory and awareness.
Willy’s ailment causes him to talk to himself and have delusions. Whenever Willy needs advice, he turns to his dead brother, Ben. Ben is a role model of Willy’s because he is a “self-made man”. At the beginning of the play, Willy enters the scene arriving earlier than expected from a business trip.
Willy’s wife, Linda, gets worried and thinks that he had crashed the car again, but Willy says that he is just tired from work.
Linda insists that Willy asks his boss, Howard, for a non-traveling job as he is too old for it now. Willy agrees and says he will talk to him about it. The only person that takes care of Willy through his tough times is Linda. Linda offers emotional support to Willy when he gets caught in times of need. During the conversation, Willy also finds out that his two sons, Happy and Biff, have came to visit.
Biff was a football star in high school and received a scholarship. However, Biff flunked math in high school and was not able to graduate or accept his scholarship. Now 34 years old, Biff has made nothing of his life and is swaying in and out of jobs because of his kleptomania, but Willy still keeps his high expectations of him. However, Biff lost all respect for his dad when he found out about his affair. Happy is only two years younger than Biff, but has to live in his brother’s shadow. Happy copes with this by caring for his sex drive.
After Willy and Linda’s conversation is over, the boys come down and speak with their mother. It is at this moment that they and the audience find out that Willy is suicidal. To brighten Willy’s mood, Happy proposes that he and Biff will go into the sporting goods business together and that they would take him out for dinner the next day. The next morning, Willy goes to see his boss to discuss his new job. When Howard hears Willy’s plea, he explains to him that he can’t do it because they don’t have an open spot. In utter frustration, Willy yells at Howard without even realizing it. In the end, Howard ends up firing Willy and tells him to take a break. Meanwhile at the restaurant, Biff explains to Happy that his old boss, Oliver, didn’t recognize him and refused to give them a loan to start their business. Unable to give their father the bad news, the two boys abandon their dad for two girls.
When they arrive home, Linda is furious at the boys for abandoning their ill father. An argument erupts and Biff exclaims he can’t live up to his dad’s unrealistic expectations and is just a failure. He’s the only one who sees that they’ve been living a lie, and he tells them so. Although Willy realizes that Biff is a failure, he is assured that Biff loves him. Unfortunately for Willy, he can’t deal with the failure and he believes the best thing he can do for his family is commit suicide. That way, they could use the life insurance money for something useful. Within minutes, there’s a loud crash and Willy has killed himself.