Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Willy Loman

Willly Loman is an elderly salesmen lost in false hopes and illusions. The sales firm he works for no longer pays him salary. Working on straight commission, Willy cannot bring home enough money to pay his bills. After thirty-four years with the firm, they have spent his energy and discarded him.

Willy's sons, Biff and Hap, are also failures, but Willy doesn't want to believe this. He wants his sons, especially Biff, to succeed where he has not. He believes his boys are great and cannot understand why they are not successful. This is a major source of conflict throughout the play.

As Willy has grown older, he has trouble distinguishing between the past and present - between illusion and reality - and is often lost in flashbacks where much of the story is told. These flashbacks are generally during the summer after Biff's senior year of high school when all of the family problems began.

Willy has had an affair with a women he meets on sales trips and once caught by Biff. Now, Biff does not respect Willy and they do not get along. Willy eventually commits suicide so that Biff can have the insurance money to become successful with.