Happy Loman: A Living Disgrace
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Happy Loman is distinguished by his exorbitant insecurity. He constantly relies on other people’s opinions to make his own decisions. His degrading attitude towards women makes him an immature man. The reason his is so insecure is because of the example that is set by his father, Willy.
Happy is always following the opinions of other people. Whether it’s his father Willy, or his mother Linda, he consistently makes sure that his opinion coincides with everyone else’s. When Willy asks Biff if Oliver gave him a good welcome, Happy intrudes, crying “Sure, pop, sure (107).” He continues to tell lies to his father because he wants to agree with him and make him happy (107-8). When Happy and Biff come home after deserting their father at the restaurant, Happy attempts to cool his mom’s anger by saying “But, Mom, he had a great time with us…(120)” By telling people what they want to hear, Happy thinks he will be well liked and accepted.
Happy’s approach to women is quite despicable. Rather than trying to settle down with someone, he goes through one girl after another. All that he cares about is having sex with women, not about having a relationship. Happy brags to his brother about his conquest of sleeping with women who are engaged to be married (25). In a conniving attempt to pick her up, he lies to the girl in the restaurant saying, “I sell champagne, and I’d like you to try my brand. Bring her a champagne, Stanley (101).” He eventually deserts his father at the restaurant, rushing the girls out, eager to make a move on one (115). Happy needs to grow up and start treating women like people, not pieces of meat.
Happy’s insecurity stems from his father’s behavior towards him. When Happy was in high school, Willy didn’t pay as much attention to him as he did to Biff. In Willy’s eyes, Happy wasn’t good enough. Therefore, Happy was always trying live up to his expectations and please him. He would repeat such comments as “I’m losing weight, you notice, Pop?(29)” Willy instilled the idea in Happy: “Be liked and you will never want (33).” With these kind of values being taught to him by his father, it’s no wonder why Happy acts so insecure.
Happy needs to find better ways of dealing with situations other than lying his way through it. My philosophy is that your own happiness comes before everyone else’s. He should focus on his own views, not persistently try to match the views others.