Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, is a tragic example of a battle, fought by the protagonist Willy Loman, between reality and illusions perpetuated by his pursuit of the American Dream, success. Death of a Salesman was written in 1949 at the dawn of a new era spawned by the ending of World War II in 1945. This play was the catalyst which catapulted Miller to a master of family dramas entrenched with strong social analysis of an individual's need to recognize his personal responsibilities while wrestling with a multitude of societal injustices. Since the battle is won within ourselves, characters like Willy Loman emerged as a symbolic reminder of the tragedies destined to us who fail to explore and re-evaluate our personal responsibilities to overcome the injustices society forces upon us. .
Willy Loman is a 60 year traveling salesman who was employed by the Wagner firm for 34 years. He was a lowly salesman, or the "low man" on totem pole, who aspired to be great, but unable to maintain his self proclaimed status, as the "New England Man", when he lost his salary and was placed on straight commission leaving him unable to provide for his family financially. Willy was finally discarded, like a "piece of fruit", inevitably leaving him confused and unable to deal with societie's new measurement of success finally leading him to suicide in a pursuit of success. His inability to adjust along with society was evident in his reaction to a simple change from Swiss cheese to American cheese defiantly stating, "I don't want a change! I want Swiss cheese", to his wife Linda. This minor change was Linda's futile attempt to help Willy adapt to the societal changes occurring around him. He unreasonably blames society for "boxing" him in and preventing him from planting the plentiful "garden" of success he dreams of obtaining for his family. .
Willy believed one only needed to be "well liked" and posses a great deal of personal attractiveness to be successful and carelessly instills his skewed success philosophies on his sons, Biff and Happy.