The major theme of Death of a Salesman, above all else, is about Dreams and how they are the contributing factor of each character’s perception of reality. The perception of reality that each character visualizes is of there own highest aspirations in life. The theme of dreams is the most important theme of Death of a Salesman, and I will be examining and comparing this particular theme with three other themes as well. These three themes are as follows: Honesty, Time and Performance. In completing my comparison of all four of these themes, I will weigh the importance of each one against the theme of “Dreams”, and as a result, come to a solid conclusion that indeed the theme of Dreams is the catalyst of the Lohman family’s false perception of reality itself.
In examining Death of a Salesman and a few of its most important themes, the theme of Dreams is certainly the most compelling and interesting of the four that I have selected. Each member of the Lohman family are all victims of their own false perception of reality. Their perception of reality is so out of focus that they are all blinded by their own aspirations of being something that they are not, as well as something that they cannot accomplish. This negativity towards the Lohman family is rightfully justified as a result of all three of the Lohman men’s lack of ability to succeed and accomplish their very high aspirations.
What Is The Theme Of The Death Of A Salesman
Death of a Salesman is dream-like, and as a result of this theme, it is evident that one of the main characters, Willy Lohman, is inside a dream that is made of life itself. Through Willy, the theme of dreams will be shown throughout the entire play more so then any other theme that I will be discussing. The hopes and dreams of all four members of the Lohman family rise out of reality. By this interpretation of their reality, it is easy to say that reality for the Lohman family is far from the truth. The one member of the Lohman family is far from the truth. The one member of the Lohman family that has any sense of reality is Willy’s wife, Linda Lohman. Linda tries to keep everything in perspective, and has a decent sense of reality even when her husband drills the idea and his false self confidence in regards to their financial situation into her head.
Their financial situation is handled by Linda, yet Willy is the provider of the family and feels the need to always reassure Linda that he is making more then enough money to support the entire family. This is a false realization of the Lohman family’s financial situation, and Willy’s ability to provide for his family the way he would like to will never be achieved. Death of a Salesman is not only about dreams, but about honesty, time and performance. These three themes will be discussed in comparison to the theme of dreams in the following two paragraphs.
Willy Lohman had a dream, but this dream was based on Dishonesty. His dreams of being a well-known and prestigious salesman were only dreams, not reality, and should have been acknowledged as such. Unfortunately, Willy’s dreams of being a great man, as well as being a famous and popular salesman were foolish, yet not unattainable. At the same time, these self-images were very unrealistic and just not true.
What Willy presents to his own family about his self-image is a false one, yet his oldest son Biff is infected by these false images of his father. In turn, he believes that he can accomplish and have anything he would like, even when he knows a particular thing is unattainable. Not only is Willy dishonest, but his two sons Biff and Happy are as well. Biff is dishonest several times during the play, and in one instance he stole, or as he claimed “borrowed” a football from his school claiming that he would return it the next day at school. Willy has two sides to himself most of the time when it comes to Biff. At times, Willy praises him saying how great he was and still is. Other times, he is complaining and venting off steam by talking down at Biff and speaking negatively of him.
Because of Biff’s false sense of security that his dreams have given him, the theme of dishonestly comes into play more so. This is the case due to the fact that this particular dishonestly would never have taken place if only Biff understood what it meant to be an honest guy. He never got a chance to due to his father’s perception of reality and his false dreams. Willy dreams that one day Biff will become something big, something that he could be proud of. Unfortunately, Biff is incapable of achieving his father’s high expectations for him, and gets very frustrated at times as a result. These dreams are the cause of this particular dishonesty-filled scenario, thus giving the theme of dreams the most importance and acknowledgement. Willy is the most dishonest of all characters in Death of a Salesman, and as such is prime subject of this theme.
Willy’s aspirations and dreams slowly become smaller and as he has grown older, he begun to realize that he is living a lie, a dream. As a result of this realization, he tries to kill himself. Willy is also unsatisfied with his wife Linda at times, so he cheats on her with a woman from Boston. He tries to lie his way out of it, yet is unsuccessful. This is yet another example of his dishonestly. His dreams of wealth not only for his family, but for himself, are very far-fetched. These aspirations, false dreams, and dishonestly were ultimately the death of Willy Lohman.