Willy Loman, a character in the play, Death of a Salesman, is a man who desperately wants to be successful, but has to deal with many setbacks in his life. He, like most others, has both positive and negative personality traits. The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him changes between the beginning and the end of the play.
At the beginning of the play, Willy sees himself as being successful and well-liked. This is partly because he is trying to maintain a successful image for the sake of his friends and family. Willy puts great emphasis on his theory that one is more successful if they are attractive and well-liked. According to him, he is well known throughout New England and can sell things to many people there, even going as far as to stay that he is vital there. Willy is also very proud of the fact that he averages one hundred and seventy dollars in sales in 1928. When he looks at these accomplishments, he feels successful and well-liked.
As the play goes on, Willy begins to see himself as a failure in his job, as a father, and in his marriage. In his job, he makes sales calls and feels like he does not know anybody anymore and they do not know him. He used to travel to the same areas and people knew him and would buy from him. Now, he is getting very frustrated because he makes trips and comes back without selling anything. He also sees himself failing as a parent. Although Happy is somewhat successful, Willy sees Biff as pretty much a complete failure. It all starts when he fails math in High School and refuses to go to summer school. He has scholarships and can't use them because he did not graduate. He ends up working on a farm, but realizes that there is not much future in that line of work. Biff ends moving back home without a job. Willy feels like he is failing in his marriage because he has had an affair. He gives time and love to a woman other than his wife. He even gives her new stockings that he should have given to his wife Linda. She has stockings that have holes in them and she has to sew them so that she can continue to wear them. All of these things show that Willy sees himself as a failure in his job, as a father and in his marriage.
At the beginning of the story, others characters see Willy as a successful salesman and loving family man. He makes many trips and is able to sell things and earn a decent commission doing so. His family is able to take of their financial needs. He is also seen a loving family man. Willy wants his family to be successful, especially his two boys. Unfortunately, he pays more attention to Biff than anyone else. This is probably because he is a star football player and has scholarship activities that can lead to success which Willy himself longed for. He did not pay much attention to Happy, who make comments about his weight and getting married to try to get the attention from his father that he desperately wanted. Based on this, others at the beginning of the story see Willy as a successful salesman and a loving family man.
As the story continues, others see Willy as a failure and a dishonest man. Charley is the first one to see Willy's failures because Willy goes to him to borrow money to pay the bills because he is not earning enough money on his own. His family sees his failures when he goes to his boss to ask for a local job because he can no longer drive long distances because of his flashbacks and ends up getting fired. He does not immediately tell his family, but they end up finding out after a short period of time. Biff is the first on to see Willy as a failure. He goes to Boston to talk to his dad about the fact that he is failing math and discovers his father having an affair with a woman. Linda knows about the affair, but keeps it to herself as to not cause friction in the family. Based on this information, sadly, Willy is seen by others as a failure and a dishonest man by the end of the story.
In conclusion, Willy Loman, is a man who has both positive and negative personality traits. The way Willy sees himself, as well as the way others see him changes between the beginning and the end of the play.
Miller, Arthur. "Death of a Salesman." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 4th ed. New York City: Pearson Longman, 2005. 1194.