The Ruination of a Person with Greed in Willy Loman's Character

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It is widely known that appearances can be deceiving. Many individuals put a lot of time and effort into putting up a facade for outsiders to see while hiding their true self. This same process applies to literary characters as well. In literature, there are times where characters have such different personality traits, yet are still comparable. Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman is a sixty-three-year-old salesman who is a husband to Linda Loman, and a father to Biff and Happy and happens to be a tragic hero. He is absolutely obsessed with the idea of being successful and wants nothing more. The play Death of a Salesman takes place within the final days of Willy Loman’s existence. He would have constant “memories” playing through his head, separating him from his reality. Willy is very insecure and he never ended up reaching his goal of success/wealth. Blanche Dubois from a Streetcar Named Desire can also be considered a tragic hero. She is initially presented as a pure and refined young woman who is the older sister of Stella Kowalski. She is only thirty years old but has lost both her husband and her job due to traumatic experiences. Blanche and Stanley do not get along due to mistrust and suspicion between the two. In the two plays, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller, the characters Willy Loman and Blanche Dubois are very similar due to their many occusing illusions, being sexual outlaws, and the fact that the two of them are tragic heroes.

Blanche Dubois from a “Streetcar Named Desire” and Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman both suffer from an immense amount of hallucinations and delusions. Blanche Dubois has experienced many difficult situations in her life. When she found out that her husband was homosexual, she told him that she was disgusted by him.

This led to his death later that night. Witnessing something like that is absolutely traumatizing and most definitely would take away a person’s innocence. Many people may not know how to react to these type of situations. Understandably, it caused the delusions and mental deterioration that is shown in the play. These phantasms might be a type of coping mechanism for her and a way to help her handle unpleasant emotions. In the play, Blanche said to “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be the truth” (Williams 145). The author Arthur Miller is indicating to that when Blanche is going through a tough time she turns to “magic” or her illusions so that the horror of her reality will go away. It is truly unfortunate that this is the only way that she will feel better but it is obviously helping her. Throughout the play, Blanche has multiple delusional episodes which all occurred around the time of something traumatic. Later in the play, Blanche was having an argument with Mitch, a man she is planning on spending the future with, about her past. She was not the most innocent woman as she had spent most of her time with many men, so Mitch did not think she was the woman for him. This conversation made her fragile mental state break a little and she turned to her coping mechanism when he left. The stage directions suggest that Blanche is “… placing the rhinestone tiara on her head before the mirror of the dressing table and murmuring excitedly as if to a group spectral admirers” ( Williams 151). When she found out that the only man that could have turned her life around did not want to be with her any longer, it was surely damaging to hear. What would it feel like if your last chance of turning your life around does not want to be with you anymore? It is very upsetting and at this point, Blanche has nothing going for her.

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Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” also turns to these types of hallucinations to cope with his reality. He is completely in love with the idea of success, although, his life is not very victorious. He got to a point in his life where all of his hope for the future is destroyed. Willy’s career has been going downhill, his job does not seem to be going well, and he has started to realize that there are younger and better-looking salesmen out there. It feels to him that he does not belong in that career anymore and he has been displaced by these young men. This is clearly an upsetting realization to Willy considering his obsession with success, so what does Willy begin to do? Fantasize. In an article, the author wrote, “ When reality becomes too painful, willy retreats into a dream world consisting of his roseate recollections of the past and fantasies in which he fulfills the aspirations the attainment of which has eluded him in life.” (blooms #5 index card intro by Harold Bloom). This is also a coping mechanism as it is for Blanche Dubois. This first sign of these hallucinations occurred early in the play as it begins to introduce the character named Ben. In the play, it states “Uncle Ben, carrying valise and an umbrella, enters the forestage… Ben looks around.” ( Miller 44) We later find out that Ben is Willy’s older and more successful brother that we find out passed away recently and frequently shows up in Willy’s illusions. He is displayed in the play through Willy’s thoughts and is never seen by any other family member. So Willy often visualizes his brother because when he thinks of him, it signifies success in a way, Ben was able to find diamonds in the African jungle so Willy will always look up to him, especially when he feels like he has nothing. In an editorial, it read, “Willy is unmistakably afflicted with many of the now classic signs of depression, He has lost his capacity for concentration and remembering.” For most of the play, Willy is imagining conversations with his older brother, he has trouble focusing and goes off in his own world. Willy also has an affair with a woman by the name of Miss Forsythe which caused him to feel guilty. The idea of the affair he had finally begun to make him feel awful and it causes the same type of hallucinations. The stage directions state “from the darkness is heard the laughter of a woman. Willy doesn’t turn to it, but it continues through Lindas lines… Music is heard as behind a scrim, to the left of the house, the woman, simply seen is undressing” (Miller 37). The fact that Willy hears the laughter while his wife is sitting and talking right in front of him gives him instant guilt. He feels terrible about what he has done and there is nothing to do other than to live with the fact that he has had an affair with another woman. Willy Loman and Blanche Dubois both have illusions as coping mechanisms which is one way of representing how similar they are.

The two have lives that have both been built upon lies. Blanche Dubois showed up to her sisters with a very vague introduction. She has a very unclear background that is not truthfully told until later in the play. Stanley was always very suspicious about her past and he did not think she was trustworthy. Blanche is a very flirtatious woman. As soon as she met Stanley, who in fact is Stella’s husband, she felt the need to act flirty. It was then found out that Blanche has had many sexual relationships in the past after her husband Allan’s death. In an article, it says “Blanche was fired from her job as a high school English teacher for having sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old male student…” Blanche used to have a great career but because of the loneliness she felt after her husband died, but it all went downhill. Blanche found a coping mechanism to cover the fact that she killed her husband. Through the entire play, Blanche shows many signs of her sexuality with the numerous men she comes across. For example, in the play, the young paper boy drops off the mail and Blanche finds him irresistible, she says “You make my mouth water…. Has anyone told you that you look like a young prince out of the Arabian nights?” ( 98-99) which is then followed by her giving him a kiss. All of this was taking place while Blanche was going out with Mitch. Blanche has actively used sexual relations as a way to cope. Having a relationship with one of her students was not the only type of sexual relationship she had after she lost her job, she stayed at a hotel called Flamingo Hotel where she ended up becoming infamous. Stanley learned some information about Blanche’s past. In an article, it reads “Blanche Dubois unable to face family deaths and decay of the state to a “mere twenty acres and graveyard¨ turns to a prostitute in her efforts to find kindness”. This is where Blanche’s lies begin to unfold. When she was staying at the hotel, they eventually asked her to leave due to the inappropriate behavior she had. At that point in her life, she had no one. She had no job, barely a place to live and no one to be with. Blanche was a very sexual woman and is very similar to Willy Loman’s situation.

Willy Loman also had a very sexual reputation. He has a wife and two sons but many times he still felt very lonely. Willy often leaves for his business trips attempting to make money for his family, but just like Blanche, he felt unloved and isolated. One of willy’s main goal in life is to be well-liked, this is a way that he can reassure himself that he is a well-liked man. Willy’s sexual behaviors are very inappropriate. His wife is nothing but loving and supportive but he can not help but go on with his ungentlemanly ways. In an article, it explains that “Willy has had a long-standing extramarital affair with a woman he met on the road in Boston…”. As Willy Loman goes on his sales trips he begins to feel very alone and it being with Miss. Forsythe has been able to fulfill that unhappiness Willy had. In a flashback, Miss Forsythe says “… It’s silly to be dressing in the middle of the night”( 116) which shows the audience what type of relationship Willy Loman had with his mistress. It is quite revolting that Willy goes on behind his loyal wife’s back, but it is one way of coping just as it was for Blanche.

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