In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Happy Loman is discontent with his life because his father Willy gave him false hopes that made him slave to the American Dream. Happy is still trying to find his way in life, but comes off with a false confidence that he believes he is actually on the right track. Since family is one of the prominent elements of the American dream Willy has continuously ingrained in his sons head that prosperity and success are the key to having a happy and fulfilling life. And you can achieve that success simply by having a likable personality.
Growing up Happy was always living in Biff’s shadow and his need for attention from his father was obvious. Happy would often say, “I’m losin weight pop, you notice,” (43) which displays his attempt to get his recognition. The adult years of his life show the effects of this favoritism, and he spends these years trying to make Willy happy by following in his foot steps and being successful. After Willy’s death Happy shows his on-going struggle to achieve success the way his father did by saying, “All right, boy. I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain.
He had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have to come out number one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him” (130). Happy refers to Willy’s dream as the “only dream” that will bring you to the top. To him this is literally the only dream he as ever thought about since he always wanted to be like Willy. He more than wants to resemble his father he wants to be him. A fathers paternal relationship to a child is one of the strongest relationships a young boy can have. Happy, like many young boys do, looked up to his father as a hero and a role model.
And his father died a somewhat shameful death striving for that status that he always wanted, and deep down Happy knows that. In the quote Happy talks about winning it for him, this shows that even after his death Happy wants to be acknowledged by his father by becoming his fathers version of success (acquiring wealth and being popular). In Happy’s head this is the only way that he is going to be truly happy. Willy has set up this false hope by saying things like “… the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.
You take me, for instance,” (33). Willy is perpetuating the idea that all you have to do is have a nice personality and be liked in order to achieve status. He is continuing this idea that you don’t have to actually work for what you get, somethings are indeed handed to you. Happy has never been taught how to do real hard work. This is where his self delusion began and that is one way that Happy and Willy are very alike, they share the same self-deulisonal tendencies. Willy has created this world which he believes everyone is happy, he is making a sufficient amount of money, and everyone likes him.
But that is far from true. Happy does the same thing by stating that he is assistant buyer of the store when he truly is the assistant to the assistant buyer. This shows the level of insecurity that Happy suffers from. On the surface he is a normal fun-loving guy but on the inside he is having a major struggle with his true self identity. He seems to be driven by this blind ambition that he will one day make it big. Happy and Willy are both prime examples of two men that have failed in search of the American Dream. Happy still believes that the key to overcoming his failure is somehow through his father.
As I mentioned before a prominent element in the American Dream is family. Both Biff and Happy think that they want wives to have kids and form a family, but they have been raised as womanizers. Happy is constantly with another woman, this is what feeds his false ego and confidence, but even he knows that won’t make him content. Despite having more stability than Biff he displays his true emotions by saying, “It’s what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women. And still, goddammit, I’m lonely” (23).
Each item he mentions in this quote are tell tale signs of his ambitions. He his has own place, he has his own means of transportation, he has a job, and he has plenty of women. The job, living space, and car are all cornerstones in the American Dream, but plenty of women is not. That is one of the reasons why he is lonely. Happy seldom expresses his frustrations and disappointment with how his life turned out. When he does show that frustration you begin to see his true discontentment with the world. Which is why I find “Happy” an interesting name choice for the character.
The name is actually very ironic . On one hand his name is suggestive how he presents himself and what he wants in life. But by striving for this unrealistic happiness he has in turn made him self lonely and extremely unhappy. He lost himself in the chase of his fathers dream and still wants to be the man his father was. Happy has wanted to be his father his whole life, and for that, there is no end in site. Miller, Arthur, and Gerald Clifford Weales. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin, 1996. Print. “Happy Loman. ” Shmoop. Speak Student, 12 May 2006. Web. 02 Oct. 2012. .