Willy recalls his sons’ teenage years as an idyllic past. What evidence is there to show that the past is not as idyllic as Willy imagines it to be? Willy Loman is a confused character who is in denial about his past, present and future. He imagines his past as an idyllic time, spent with his promising teenage son’s Biff and Happy. Biff as a young boy was always Willy’s favourite son, made obvious to everyone around him. Biff is perceived by Willy as the golden boy, great at sport, a promising place at a top university and the ability to make girls fall to their knees with one look.
However, Willy can not seem to recognise that Biff is extremely lazy academically and only cares about his own well-being. “Willy: Like a young Hercules-something like that… ” Willy is adamant that Biff has a bright future ahead of himself with a secure place at the University of Virginia. Yet once again Willy disregards the fact that Biff is failing math and will not get a place t the University unless he drastically changes his bad habits which is constantly reminded by Bernard who is mocked as a teenager by Biff and Wily but who goes on to be a successful lawyer.
“Gonna argue a case in front of the Supreme Court” Biff is selfish as a teenager; his only focus is on girls, cars and sport even with Willy’s dream pushing him forward. Willy can not understand as Biff gets older why he has not achieved anything out of life, when as a teenager he had such a prosperous future.
Willy can not grasp the fact that it is time to let go of the dream he so desperately clings on to for Biff. “Willy: I see great things for you kids, I think your troubles are over. ” Willy’s unrealistic expectations also affect Happy as a teenager and in later life.
Life has never been idyllic for the Loman’s as nothing has ever been good enough and each character is constantly striving fro more in life, whether it is more money or more freedom. Happy feels he cannot live up to his older brother Biff and therefore is constantly trying to impress his father with strings of lies. Willy is incapable of recognising Happy’s neglect as a teenager and presumes he had a happy childhood. However, Happy makes up for his lack of self confidence by making himself available to everyone and anyone. The more risky and attention seeking, the better.
He has no proper job besides an assistant to an assistant buyer although he portrays himself as a man very high up the social ladder. “Happy: Why don’t you bring her, excuse me, miss, do you mind. I sell champagne… ” Happy will do and say anything to make himself look and feel better whether that mean by making up a high paid job, far better than his own and passing it as his own or sleeping with many women. This constant need for self reassure relates back to his teenage years when he had no attention paid to him at all.
Biff however endured the opposite affect, whilst having attention on him constantly as a child; he strives for a life on his own where he can make his own decisions. Willy can’t bring himself to blame for Happy’s relentless sex drive and self indulgence and so once again ignores his actions even in adult life, still fully focusing of Biff and his future. Willy’s perception of his past and his son’s life as young boys is far from the truth as Willy is incapable of seeing anything he does not want to and he in so wrapped up in his own thoughts and dreams.
This however only puts more pressure of Biff as he has and always will be in the spot light, constantly being praised or criticized by his father. As a teenager Biff always wanted to please his father. “Biff: When I take off my helmet, that touchdown is for you” Willy lost this strong relationship with Biff after being caught with the woman. When Biff caught his father with his mistress, Biff lost all the faith and respect he once had for Willy and lost the determination he once possessed to achieve in life and strive for his goals.
Biff lost the will to impress his father and blames Willy’s affair and high expectations for his confusion and lack of direction in adult life. “Biff: If I strike oil I’ll write you a cheque. Meantime forget I’m alive” This is the first time Willy is able to see what he and his family have actually become. All Willy’s life he had clung to his hopes and dreams of Biff and his successful future only to realize that it was all too late and was in fact never going to happen. Linda is throughout the script pushed to the back of Willy’s mind.
However she is the backbone. Without Linda Willy would have lost self-will along time before. It’s only when even Linda cannot cope anymore with Willy slow mental breakdown that Willy finally realizes he has been wrong, this is when he makes his final decision of committing suicide. This is when Willy finally realises that even his past was not even as he had imagined his whole life which was the only thing that gave him the determination to keep striving for his impossible dream.