15 February 2009
From Zero to Hero in One Article!
In her article, "Willy Loman: The Everyday Hero,'" the scholar Addison DuMont argues that due to his perseverance and willingness to sacrifice himself for his son Biff, Willy Loman should be seen as a hero, not a pathetic failure who cannot see past his own fantasies. Her argument is well researched and supported, yet DuMont takes things too far in characterizing Willy Loman as a hero. Simply looking at Willy's mental strength reveals that Willy Loman does not deserve hero status. He lacks the mental fortitude to face reality and chooses to live in a fantasy world of his own creation. The perfect example of this is his refusal to accept the reality of his life as well as that of his sons. He insists that he is popular, that he is a successful salesman, that he can get his boss to take him off the road. During the scene in the restaurant between Willy and his sons, Biff tries to make his father recognize that he never was a salesman for Bill Oliver. He says, "Who ever said I was a salesman with Oliver? [...] Dad, I don't know who said it first, but I was never a salesman for Bill Oliver. [...] We're not going to get anywhere bullin' around. I was a shipping clerk" (Miller 1402). Willy argues with Biff and won't accept that Biff is who he is, a thirty-something man with nothing to show for his years of work. If he did acknowledge Biff's failures, he would then have to admit to his own failures as both a salesman and father. Even though Willy does possess some positive character traits, desirable characteristics do not inevitably confer hero-ship on a character. DuMond should look carefully at the definition of the word “hero.” 311