In Death of a Salesman, what evidence demonstrates that Willy misses the distinction between being loved and being well liked?

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For Willy Loman, being a "well-liked man" is the governing principle of his whole life. And it's an attitude that he constantly instills into his sons. If you want to make it in this world, he always tells them, you've got to be well-liked; all you need is "a smile...

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For Willy Loman, being a "well-liked man" is the governing principle of his whole life. And it's an attitude that he constantly instills into his sons. If you want to make it in this world, he always tells them, you've got to be well-liked; all you need is "a smile and a shoeshine." But in telling them this, Willy's setting up his sons for failure; being well-liked will only get you so far. As he doesn't really understand what it means to be loved, he's unable to provide his family with the emotional support they need.

Willy is so engrossed in this mythical fantasy world he's constructed for himself that he's unable to see anything wrong, for example, with having an affair and giving his mistress a gift of stockings. The shocking revelation of Willy's infidelity leads directly to Biff's losing interest in school and failing his math exam. Wanting so much to be well-liked blinds Willy to the importance of being loved, especially in relation to one's family. Anyone can be well-liked; it's easy to turn on the superficial charm. But being loved is a whole different ball-game; it shows you what really matters in life. However, because Willy lives in a fantasy world, he's unable see this—with damaging consequences for both himself and his family.

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Willy misses this distinction because he is living in a dream world.  He views his life as something that it is not.  He sees himself as much more successful than he actually is.  He has visions of grandeur that cloud his judgment and ability to think clearly about what and who he really is.  His actions, such as having a mistress and not taking the time to really know who his sons were emotionally, reveal his lack of understanding about what it means to be loved.  He is more worried about perceptions than he is the truth!

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In "Death of a Salesman",Willy worries about how the outside world sees him.He wants to do well by his family,but his real obsession is that outsiders will like him.For example,Willy lies to make himself seem better to others.He pretends he is a much more successful business man than he really is.He tells Biff how important impressions will be when Biff gets older and has to go into the real world.Willy does not worry that Biff is not doing all of his schoolwork because he feels Biff will always be better off because he is good looking, talented and can tell people what they like to hear,very different from Bernard who is awkward, shy but very intelligent.Willy makes his opinions clear in the flashbacks that he feels his son is better than Bernard because of these facts.

If Willy was more concerned with being loved,he would worry more about his wife.Willy would make sure she had new stockings instead of his mistress.Linda, who has always been there for him even though times were tough,is put to the back because he is more concerned about what his mistress will think of him.Willy clearly lets the desire to be well liked rule every other aspect with his life, clearly making his family suffer because of it.

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