Death of a Salesman

p.24 l.39 Schöning

The idea of "liking" is central to an understanding of the play. What difference does Willy make between "liked" and "well liked"? Willy uses this distinction as a mantra. Look out for further instances in the course of your reading

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One of Miller's techniques throughout the play is to familiarize certain characters by having them repeat the same key line over and over. Willy's most common line is that businessmen must be well-liked, rather than merely liked, and his business strategy is based entirely on the idea of a cult of personality. He believes that it is not what a person is able to accomplish, but who he knows and how he treats them that will get a man ahead in the world. This viewpoint is tragically undermined not only by Willy's failure, but also by that of his sons, who assumed that they could make their way in life using only their charms and good looks, rather than any more solid talents.