The Significance of Delusion, Dreams, and Deception in Death of a Salesman

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1597 Words
Date:  2022-03-28


Themes of delusions, deception, and dreams are used in the play to outline how people in the middle class cope with unfulfilled aspirations within the American capitalist environment. Such factors result in the light of a competitive culture where true success is measured concerning prosperous careers and accumulation of wealth. Unfortunately, persons in the middle class consistently deal with depressing issues of unsuccessful career paths and financial constraints. The themes of delusion, dreams, and deception have immense significance in illustrating realities of middle-class persons through the play entitled "Death of a Salesman."

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Delusion means maintaining impressions that contradict the reality. Delusions in the play help in explaining how middle-class persons are normally derailed because of not attaining the American dream (The Guardian, 1). The modest talents that Willy Loman, the main character, has are not very lucrative in the competitive capitalist America nation and thus deny him the chances of becoming successful. In reality, Willy is a poor salesman who is not satisfied with his placing in the society. Even though the desire for success is healthy, it is never a must for one to be in the class of the wealthy persons to become happy. However, Willy chooses to live in delusion with the aim of escaping from this reality. Such scenario occurs mainly with the intention of making he acquire a sense of importance in the midst of others. However, Willy's mental state of delusions causes him to slip in a state of bewildering depression and enthusiasm.

In the play of Death of the Salesman, Willy's delusion solely attributes to his failure in chasing for the American dream. He has pressing needs of achieving a successful dream, even though his current status does not allow (The Guardian, 1). Willy predominantly uses delusion to blind himself from the reality. Such factors make Willy convince himself of being well-liked and successful. His desire of being well-liked is in the hope of becoming successful and attaining social security. He immerses himself in the philosophy that aligns people's likable personalities to success. Such scenario occurs because it opens up avenues of engaging in more business opportunities that make one successful.

There are numerous instances that Willy gave himself to dilution in the play to avoid living in reality in his life. Even though his brother Ben is absent, he consistently interacts with him in one on one basis through heated conversations on numerous occasions. The audiences in the play know that Ben died a long time ago. Nevertheless, Willy constantly brings him back to life and engages in interactive conversations with him. In his delusion, he remembers about the times they had together and also explains to Ben the current happenings.

Willy also has a delusion in lapsing back into his past before engaging in loud conversations (Bradford, 1). Mostly, he relives his past life and makes conversations that are related to what happened in the earlier days. In the first scene, Willy talks to himself downstairs while reliving his past encounters. The disconnection from the reality, where he was in the house with his two sons upstairs causes Happy, his son to go downstairs with the intentions of calming him down to sleep.

In numerous occasions, Willy tells Linda about how he managed to make a lot of money during his sales trip. Such factors enable him to grossly inflate the success, which he had acquired through his delusional mind. However, Linda chooses to bring him back to reality by asking him to elaborate on specific aspects of his talk.

Willy admires the career path of his brother Bernard, who became rich at the age of 12 years old (Bradford, 1). He is not satisfied with being a mere salesman but wishes to become successful in business. Additionally, convincing Willy that the only valuable way to which his sons could live is by chasing after successful career path. Because he is not prepared for having anything less, Willy drifts into delusion as a way of attaining such success. Additionally, Willy has a misconception regarding the profession of his son Happy. However, in reality Happy was a shopping clerk.

Additionally, delusions drive Willy into resorting to use harsh demeanor as a means of pushing his sons towards successful career paths. He wishes that his sons would also share in similar dreams to attain the career path that he longed to have. Biff has the aspirations of working on the farm out West and is positively encouraged by his mother. Nonetheless, Willy is interested in his son chasing for other successful and lucrative professions that will make him wealthy. Such factors cause Biff to destroy all the hopes he had for the future in the bid of fulfilling his father's desires (Hailey, 1). Even though he makes efforts in achieving his father's dreams, Willy does not seem to recognize them. All he wishes for is that his son could have the success and wealth, which he failed to have.

Deception is the aspect of having falsehood in talks with others. Jonathan presents deceit throughout the play in elaborating how Willy managed to distort different harsh truths in his life tactfully. Most times, his exaggerates lies, which are obscure to the audience until when the truth become overtly known in later scenes. In an instance, Willy states that he is "vital in New England" as if to claim that he has advanced in business. Nonetheless, the truth becomes known when he finally loses his employment as a salesman in scene two. Bernard managed to achieve the traditional American Dream, where success is directly proportional to hard work. Nonetheless, because Willy's hard work failed in attaining him the much-needed success, he deceives himself that there is a secret to success.

Willy consistently indulges himself in false talks to people around him. In one instance, he uses deception in defending himself from teaching his sons theft (Clurman, 1). Willy explained to others how he had never taught his sons to steal from others. However, he was the one who told his sons to steal from the construction sites. He also downplays the act of Happy's involvement in stealing balls from his employer Oliver. On another occasion, Willy tells Bernard that he doesn't know why Biff did not further his studies in college. However, this is falsehood because he knows that his son developed resentments on going to college after knowing about Willy's affair.

Falsehood has been used in the play to illustrate its negative effects within a family setup. Willy also uses deceit to teach his children. Unfortunately, this has resulted in negative trajectory in his son's lives that are predominantly unsuccessful. He falsely teaches his children that the key to success was in being well liked, which is incorrect. Unlike the other persons in the family, Biff finally realizes that they consistently deceive each other. He fights hard with the aim of escaping from the cycle of lies, which impedes his success.

Deceit has illustrated how the real characters of persons can be hidden behind falsehood. Happy hides his womanizer character from his parents by consistently lying to them about a bid to finally settle down and get married. However, in reality, he intends just to be involved with many girls in the intention of sleeping around with them. On the other hand, Happy and Linda engage in deceit by stating that Willy was on the verge of making it big in life. This is despite them knowing that he has no capabilities of advancing career-wise.

Linda always tries to protect her husband from recognizing his self-deception, because she knows that Willy is suicidal (Clurman, 1). She is aware that his husband is broke and consistently borrows money from Charley. Additionally, Linda knows that his husband does not have the best of personality. However, she chooses sometimes to protect Willy from these realities to ease his depression and suicidal nature. Therefore, Linda uses deceit to make his husband happy just like many other wives who find themselves in her predicaments.

Dreaming refers to a series of ideas, sensations, and emotions that are manifest involuntarily in the brain when one is asleep. The dream has been used in the play to illustrate the wishful thinking of Willy. In his dreams, Willy aspires to become a successful and wealthy salesman. When he remembers his dreams, he talks to Ben who in reality is absent. However, after entering into a flashback to the real world, Willy admits to it but states that the past and the present are concurrently mobile.


The play helps in elaborating on the delusions and deceptions that are often experienced by American middle-class personalities. Even though this does not reveal the failing state of the economy, the play is helpful in illustrating how internalized ideologies can distort the true nature of man. Through delusion and deception, it is impossible to face reality in the common setup with regards to healthily admiring values. Therefore, even though dreaming of making it big is normal, forcing oneself into becoming successful in unhealthy and can result in mental distortion and suicidal occurrences.

Works Cited

Bradford, Wade. A critical review of 'Death of a Salesman': is Arther Miller's classic play simply overrated?ThoughtCo, 6 March, 2017. Retrieved from
Clurman, Harold. Theatre: Attention! The New Republic, 28 Feb, 1949. Retrieved from
Hailey Bean. Death of a salesman by Arthur Miller: Willy Loman's delusion and its harmful effect on his son, Biff. The American Experience

The Guardian. Death of a salesman five-star review - Antony Sher is extraordinary. The Guardian, 2018. Retrieved from

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The Significance of Delusion, Dreams, and Deception in Death of a Salesman. (2022, Mar 28). Retrieved from

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