Often relationships within families are very complicated and accompanied by numerous conflicts and contradictions. In this respect, the Lomans may be viewed as a typically dysfunctional family, since the relationship between members of the family are very complex and tense. In fact, the Lomans rather tend to live their own life regardless of the life of other members of the family. At the same time, it is not actually the entire family that contributes to the dysfunctional relationship but it is rather the main character, Willy, who actually comes into conflict with members of his family. In such a way, the Lomans are a dysfunctional family, whose major problems are caused by Willy who cannot realize his ambitions and whose past and rigid set of values prevent him from a normal life leading to conflict and miscomprehension in relations with other members of the family (Thesis Statement).
On analyzing the play, it should be said that the major problem of the play is the wide gap between ambitions and intentions of the main character, Willy, and his actual position and achievements, which do not meet his expectations. In actuality, Willy wanted and still wants to succeed in the life, but he has failed to succeed. Instead, he is on the edge of the ruin because he has almost lost his job and he cannot find his own place in his life, the place he thinks he has deserved. In such a way, his ambitions dominate over his actions and he is rather an egoistic person whose interests are mainly focused on himself, while his family proves to be secondary for him.
Naturally, such an egoistic attitude of Willy to his family produces a destructive effect on the family. In the past, he had relatively good relationships with other members of the family, especially his eldest son, Biff. However, as the Lomans grow older the egoistic and even hypocritical nature of Wily Loman becomes obvious. For instance, his son, Biff, cannot forgive his father the extramarital affair which he believes is absolutely immoral and does not meet the image of an ideal, successful man Wily Loman attempts to create. As a result, their relationships deteriorate dramatically. The similar trend may be traced in the relationship between Willy and his brother Ben. Willy cannot live with the idea that his brother is a rich and successful man, while he turns to be a loser who has failed to make a successful career and who is about to lose his job.
However, Willy Loman is not absolute villain or totally negative character. In fact, his problem is his inability to accept the reality as it is. Instead, he builds up a different reality while he recollects and relives the past. In fact, he is not perfect character since he has failed to be a good father and husband, but, in his relations with his brother, Willy does not really envy his brother. In actuality, he just cannot accept the idea that he has not succeeded in his life, though, initially, he and his brother had equal opportunities. At the same time, even in his relations with his son he is not totally bad. In fact, he does love his son, though Willy lies him he still proves to be very sensitive and even sentimental as he recollects the past, like the Biff’s last football game. The problem of Willy, which destructs his relations with his son, is his ambidextrous nature, his trend to live an imaginary life, instead of the real one. This is probably why he cannot tell the truth to his son about his love affair.
At the same time, it is dysfunctional values of Willy that, to a significant extent, defined his entire life. In fact, these values were not inborn or they were not dysfunctional since Wily strived for success and had great ambitions. However, it is the life that made his values dysfunctional. To put it more precisely, he has failed to succeed, he has failed to become a good father and husband and, thus, all his values, such as the strife for success, wealth, traditional family values, proved to be idealistic and unrealizable. As a result, Willy was disenchanted and had to reevaluate his system of values but, instead, he prefer to relive his past instead of accepting the reality.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the Lamons are really a dysfunctional family, but the family becomes dysfunctional because of the inability of the main character, Willy, to realize his ambitions and succeed in life.
Miller, A. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Classics, 2002.