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Willy's philosophy, in Death of a Salesman, is “be liked and you will never...
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High School Teacher
Throughout the play, Willy believes, wholeheartedly, that the way to get ahead in life is to be liked. If you are liked, he believes, success will follow. In fact, being liked is more important than actual ability. At one point he tells his boys that he will be a greater success than Charley because whilst he is "liked," he is not "well liked," in comparison to Willy, who is liked. Note how this creed of Willy's is revealed in the following quote from Act I when he remembers Biff and how he was so popular at high school:
He could be big in no time. My God! Remember how they used to follow him around in high school? When he smiled at one of them their faces lit up. When he walked down the street… [He loses himself in reminiscences.]
It is clear from Happy and Biff and what they say that they, to a certain extent, have swallowed this doctrine of their father's as well, though Happy has done this to a greater extent than his brother. However, increasingly, as the play continues, it becomes clear that this is one of many beliefs that Willy has that are completely erroneous, and based more on his own delusions than reality. This becomes clear through the comparison between Biff and Bernard. Even though Bernard is not popular in school, it is Bernard who has become an immensely successful lawyer and it is Biff who has become, in the words of his father, a "bum." The success of other characters and the failure of Willy and his sons indicates that being "liked" and reputation is not the most important thing in the world. This is something that Biff comes to realise by the end of the play.
Posted by accessteacher on January 11, 2013 at 6:51 AM (Answer #1)
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