The overlying theme in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman- is about the "American Dream-, which means success, and what it takes to achieve it. Miller is able to achieve this by creating various characters, each with a different view of that dream. His main character in the play is Willy who has a lot of false pride and nave views on success. His son Biff is lost in the world with no light, until the end, to find his vision of the "American Dream."" Miller also adds in Willy's brother Ben whose life is not as much someone's definition of a working success as it is almost anyone's dream of success. A less noticeable character in the play but still shows another view of success is Biff's best friend Bernard who takes on the saying "The meek shall inherit the Earth."".
In the play Willy plays a career salesman that never advanced in life; with many tragic flaws that ultimately lead to his downfall. Throughout the play Miller is constantly reinforcing Willy's personality and childish view on success. In Willy's mind the key to success is to be well liked, if you are well liked then you will go far in life. There are many times this view is supported by Willy's conversations with Biff and his false image he portrays himself as. One of these instances is during a flashback Willy tells Biff.
Willy. "Be liked and you will never want Take me, for instance 'Willy Loman is here!' That's all it takes, and I go right through." (1:4).
Willy is lying to himself here. In fact Willy is not well liked and has a hard time at his job. Nonetheless he inflates this image of himself to his sons. Appearances are also a big part to Willy Loman. At one point he says that he thanks God that both Biff and Happy are built like Adonises, a Greek God. In the Loman household the key to success is be well liked and look good.
Willy's oldest son Biff represents someone who can not find dream or goal of success in life. Much to his dismay Biff has taken on many of the tragic qualities Willy has.