How does Willy’s desperate quest for the American Dream resemble a religious crusade?
Willy Loman is a traveling salesman who is sixty-three years and works on commission basis. He has a wife named Linda and two boys Happy and Biff who makes a smiling home. Everyone would like to live an easy, successful and wealthy life (Hooti et al, 23). In the story of Death of a salesman, Willy is convinced and wholeheartedly believes in Americans dream which is never achieved at the end of it. The American dream can be said to be achieved when every individual has a right to live in decent places, receives an award for hard work and also is recognized as a worthy human being. Willy is a self-deluded salesman who is also insecure and in his attempts to fulfill America’s dream, he fails throughout the story. The sons of salesman Biff and Happy does not fulfill their father’s hope in succeeding where he failed and this unfolds his death. Willy is desperate for American Dream to be fulfilled and this affects his real life in reality appraisal and consequently, leads to his untimely death (Hooti et al, 70).
The salesman believes entirely in what the Arthur Miller calls “the promise of the American Dream. “One thing which makes not to accept America’s change is the belief that for one to be successful in business, he has to be well-liked. He tells his sons that success comes from one being well-liked by people (Novick 30). Willy has a belief that a personally and well-liked and a man who is attractive in business will be able to get the substantial luxuries offered by American Life.Willy gets obsessed with superficial qualities of likeability and the good looks. All this is in contrast with American’s rewarding dreams which they view it as hard work without complaints leads to success. The salesman feels that one should get rewarded for their hard work. The author says that he realized selling is one of the best careers that a man can possess. Because going into different cities at the age of eighty-four to pick phones and be loved, remembered and helped by many couldn’t be helpful at all (56). Willy feels that he could get satisfaction from loving and remembering him. He believes that his business contacts could provide him with validation more than his family’s love could. However much he searches, Willy does not achieve self-knowledge and realization till his death takes him as a tragic hero. Willy defines success as an outward appearance and success and not a personal integration (Novick 80).
Crusade in a modern way refers to the undertakings which are done by individuals who have a strong belief in the foundation or cause (Jenkins 30). The visions and missions involved in crusade must be strong enough in order to reach the ultimate goal. To make the crusade successful, strategies are combined with the plans and this helps in turning out everything the best. The sales man story can be resembled to a crusade today. He has a mission and vision which are achieving the Dream of America. Even at his age, he still feels that he can travel outside cities and get business contacts which he feels, it may bring a validation in his life which he does not get from his family’s love, and he feels this will bring ultimate success (Hooti et al, 70).
Willy’s quest for the American dream is likened to a religious crusade in so many other ways. For instance, he lacks self-centered ambitions in his search for success just like the religious crusade. The salesman wants the best for his wife Linda and the two boys (Biff and Happy).The same way a crusade will do anything to win souls to Christ. They sacrifice a lot to attract many people into Christianity and they are not self-centered all they want is best for others (Jenkins 44). Willy is also concerned with the wellbeing of the boys and also cares about their financial as well as their social lives in future. He wants them to achieve what he did not achieve. He wants them to be successful in areas where he failed. Christian crusade today is the same as the salesman whereby people are urged to repent and not follow the footsteps of those who have failed in the past.
If the salesman never died, today he would still be working to see the change he always wanted. He would still be working hard to offer his family the good life that he always dream of. Religious crusades today clings into the word of God and they spend a lot of money and other resources to achieve success which is winning many souls into Christianity (Jenkins 89). Willy, in the same way, clings to the dream till his ultimate death. Happy called the dream of his father a dream of becoming “the number one man” Just the way religious crusade fellows has a strong belief in the origin or cause of Christianity, Willy has a strong belief too about the cause of success.
Hooti, Noorbakhsh, and Farzaneh Azizpour. “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: A postmodernist Study.” Studies in Literature and language 1.8 (2010): 15.
Jenkins, Philip. The great and holy war: How World War I became a religious crusade. Harper Collins, 2014.
Novick, Julius. “Death of a salesman: deracination and its discontents.” American Jewish History 91.1 (2003): 97-107.