A controversy engulfs Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman. Was Willy a victim of modern American society, or did he simply lack the morals and ethics to achieve success and happiness? Willy Loman is a victim of the American capitalistic machine, as evidenced through his frequently ambivalent attitudes concerning the importance place on pride and being well liked, as well as the self delusion he displays in his affair and many other aspects of life. .
One of the many false, contrived attitudes contemporary America instills in its citizens is a very fierce pride, in which they cannot accept criticism and are blind to reality. Willy Loman took such a pride in his work, claiming himself to be " vital in New England- (Miller 14), and concurrently viewed himself as a failure. Although Willy " was wonderful with his hands- (Miller 138), he saw any profession in carpentry or construction as an inadequate measure of success, although he was aware that he took pleasure in putting up a ceiling or repairing a porch. .
As a traveling salesman, the ultimate symbol of an American occupation and one he so revered, Willy also saw himself as a failure.
But I gotta be at it ten, twelve hours a day. Other men I don't know do it easier. I don't know why I can't stop myself I talk too much. A man oughta come in with a few words I'm fat. I'm very foolish to look at (Miller 37). .
Even after being fired by Howard Wagner, Willy was too proud to accept a job offer from his neighbor and good friend, Charley. Willy failed in selling because he couldn't succeed living life by a false standard of making money by lying and cheating, despite the pride he sporadically took in it. .
The business world places great emphasis on being well liked. Willy assumed these business values as his own, maintaining " that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked- (Miller 86) and coincidentally acknowledged that his colleagues had little respect for him and ridiculed him when he attempted to make a sale.