Mike Rose Essay

This essay has a total of 1330 words and 6 pages.

Mike Rose

An inheritance may consist of property, money, and securities to provide surety for its
beneficiaries. The condition of the estate may be the product of birthright, hard work or
even immoral acts. The deeds, beliefs and ethics of the bestower can have a deeper impact
on the heirs than the estate itself. The scions' lives may be affected by the
psychological, emotional or spiritual components of their inheritance.

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman undermines the belief that a legacy would benefit
one's posterity, and demonstrates how heirs may be instead be afflicted by inheritance.
What Willy bestows his sons is not affluence, but deeply rooted character flaws. These
deficits prevent their personal growth, and are barriers to self-fulfillment.

Willy Loman, is a failure within the capitalist model, as he has struggled all of his life
to earn a living as a salesman. "I get the feeling that I won't sell anything again, that
I won't make a living for you, or a business for the boys" (38) he tells his wife Linda.
In spite of his professional disappointments, he clings to his belief that likeability and
attractiveness are the cornerstones of achievement. He preaches that a man's natural gifts
are more valuable than his efforts or integrity. "Because the man who makes an appearance
in the business world, who creates persona interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked
and you will never want"(33). He dramatically overstates his appeal to his sons, and
pretends to be a great man. This delusion creates the roost of dishonesty in which his
sons are raised. Biff and Happy feed on falsehoods that deform their senses of identity,
their perceptions of reality, and concepts of morality. Willy's lies ensure that
distortions become their truth, dishonesty their trade, and unhappiness their harvest.
This web of deceit is the Loman legacy, and its destructive dividends are paid throughout
the boys' lives.

Willy's fabrications are rooted in abandonment, and he filled the void with a mythology of
genealogical. His father is remembered as a great man: he, too, was a traveling salesman,
and great inventor whose success was the stuff of folk tales. His brother A secondary
father figure who appears to Willy in hallucinations is his brother Ben. We are to believe
that Ben "walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age twenty-one, and he's rich"(25).
There is no mention of what Ben did to achieve this success, nor is it ever clear whether
he succeeded at all. For Willy, this legend is proof enough that a man needs only to dream
to succeed. Willy fantasizes that he possesses this rugged appeal, and believes that
charisma provides access to the American Dream. He does not put value on true virtues like
hard work, professionalism and business savvy. With neither appeal or diligence, his faces
constant failure. His fantasy is greatness; his reality is insignificance.

Unable to accept his mediocrity, Willy creates a fictional depiction of his selling life.
In this version he is a well-liked, welcomed hero throughout New England. "I never have to
wait in line to see a buyer.' Willy Loman is here!' That's all they have to know, and I go
right through"(33). He inflates his sales figures, fooling his sons, but not his wife.
"Did you sell anything?"(34), she knowingly asks. He privately admits that he "talks too
much" and is "foolish to look at" (37), but makes no effort to improve. Instead, he
perpetuates his failed ideology by deluding his sons into believing that achievement is
assured by being attractive, popular and virile. Since their father's simple prescription
for success falls short, the boys are also doomed to a life of discontentment.

Biff's identity is tied to his athletic prowess and favor with the ladies, while Happy
struggles for his father's attention by extolling his weight loss. The boys are lead to
believe that success is style over substance and form over function. Willy directs them to
ignore the need to work hard, as if it is beneath them and ridicules the studious neighbor
Bernard. "Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in
the business world, you're going to be five times ahead of him. That's why I thank
almighty God you're both built like Adonises" (33).

The belief in the power of physical superiority becomes a handicap. Biff loses a college
football scholarship because he ignores the need to perform in math. As an adult, he
cannot keep a job because he sees working for others as below him. He recalls that
"[Willy] blew me so full of hot air, I could never stand taking orders from anybody… I
had to be boss big shot in two weeks" (131).

Happy is equally damaged as he measures his success by his sexual conquests. Although he
believes he has "an overdeveloped sense of competition"(25), his victories in the bedroom
prevent any progress in the boardroom. His sexual prowess sabotages his professional
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