Willy Loman Inspired This

In English class we are reading Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. It’s a really great play, but it’s hard to enjoy it when you have a bunch of 16-year-olds butchering it with their reading.

The whole point of DOAS is this salesman, Willy Loman, who has started to really regret his life and not living up to his expectations. Willy wanted to be the most coveted family in New York, making lots of money, having a sports star son and knowing that his family would just be on top. Those things were on his bucket list. But Willy only gets failure in everything. Which really made me think.

The entire play makes me think about my own life. What are my plans for when I get out of high school? What is on my bucket list? What is my Willy Loman plan? After lots of thought, I made up this list of what I want to accomplish before I die.

  • I want to have lived in London, England for at least a year
  • I want to have written and published a book, which hopefully is a big seller
  • I want to get married to my soul mate
  • Children!
  • I want to have a great job working for a magazine (hopefully fashion)
  • I want to meet my grandchildren
  • I want to know that I’ve created a loving family
  • I want to have lived in New York City
  • I want to have an article published about me

Those are the things that I want more than anything. I want to have a great family and to have experienced the world. I want to have made a difference in people’s lives and finally live out my publishing dreams. I want so many things before I die. I want to say that, in my last few minutes of life, that I’ve accomplished everything I ever wanted. That I feel educated and experienced. When I die, I want no regrets.

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So, Willy Loman, you inspired this thinking inside of me. Thank you for helping me realize my dreams and hopefully you have inspired others too. And for my readers, feel free to make your own bucket list and post it in the comments. Help Willy Loman help you! Thank you for reading.


I also want to do this(:


91 thoughts on “Willy Loman Inspired This

  1. IMHO, Willy Loman is one of the most brilliantly written characters in dramatic history. Such a sad, sad man…

    Good luck to you as you become the anti-Loman!


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  3. As an ancient 30 something I sometimes read these lists and roll my eyes. But yours is different. I think the finding your soul mate one is important. I found mine. I also like that you hope to meet your grandkids. My husband and I never lived in NYC. Our list would have said California. And we lived there five years. Good luck!

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  7. I too read that book at school. You wonder why they give kids something so depressing to study. I love your post. I have a bucket list which I will never reveal but some of our goals are the same! There must be a little bit of that in all of uss.

    1. We read it because it is true American literature, and that’s what you read in English class. I’m so glad you liked the post. I feel truly lucky to have Freshly Pressed to spread my writing to everyone.

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  9. I came to your entry because of the picture of the woody (there’s a lesson in that), a particularly favorite car of mine, although I’ve never owned one. But I enjoyed what you had to say about the low man, and especially about your aspirations for your life. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to define, so succinctly, what I want and what I might do. There is a lesson in that for me, as well: if you can’t define what you want, you probably won’t get it. So keep honing your list, and keep writing.

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  11. Too cool! As soon as I saw the headline I had to come look. I taught DOAS for 17 years, but I was lucky: my 16 year olds were in a private international school where wanting to learn is the norm. I loved teaching this play. and I love your idea. I am off to come up with my Loman Plan. Thank you.

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  14. And now you’ ve been Freshly Pressed, Morgan–congratulations on your admirable aspirations and congrats on being featured on FP-ed–that should count for something!

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  16. As a literature teacher by day, I really enjoyed your mature and inspirational response to this tragic figure. It is a refreshing approach to Willy Loman who is usually not linked with positive future outcomes! I encourage you to continue cultivating your writing and achieve your bucket list and more! Great read.

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  18. I read this my freshman year in college and did the exact same thing. I wrote a bucket list. I no where near the end of it, but have since been able to cross off being a mother, getting married, owning a home, and sky diving. I hope to finish my list in my lifetime

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  21. Bucket lists make for interesting reading decades later. At 16, I decided I wanted to live in NYC, Paris and Rome. I did Paris at 26, the ‘burbs of NYC at 30….and ditched Rome. As an author of two NF books, I’ve crossed that off my list.

    Next few wishes include a house in France, seeing my new book become a TV series (in the works, fingers crossed) and staying healthy enough to visit at least 20 more countries: Morocco, Argentina, Japan and Cambodia among those.

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  27. Lovely, Morgan! I’m going to share your blog with my teen-daughter. And I believe being Freshly Pressed is pretty close to accomplishing: β€œ I want to have an article published about me.” Keep blogging!

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  29. The whole play is mostly about Loman’s idiocy β–¬ his insistence to live in a “dream world” and never really succeed in actualities which require steadiness, discipline and a more realistic attitude. The man is never happy and blames others for his own insufficiencies and is shifty in nature.

    I’m glad you were inspired not to be a willy loman as “Death Of A Salesman” is a brilliant play like “A Streetcar named Desire” where we are also seemingly advised not to be a stanley kowalski, stella kowalski and her sister blanche (don’t worry this is not a spoiler it’s kinda pretty obvious in the very beginning).

    Well, good luck for your dreams!

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  33. Very impressed to see a high schooler make a bucket list in response to an English class. Now’s the perfect time to start.. best of luck! And by the way… FP should count for something!

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  36. Love your blog Morgan! And I have to say- your bucket list seems very cool- and very achievable. Welcome to London, this is a wonderful place to live…especially when you are young. You literally have the world here… all outside your front door…

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  38. Great post. It raises questions for me. What is the correct age to read DOAS? Should a sixteen year old be concerned with a bucket list? If you accomplish everything on your bucket list was the list too short? Or too easy? What about choices? What if you are offered the opportunity to live in London and New York concurrently? Bucket lists are fun. Willy’s life was probably not. Should I reread the play? Great post.

    1. Reading your comment made me think. Usually people read DOAS about their sophomore or junior years of high school, so I’m reading it at the normal time. And a bucket list is something people of all ages should have. It helps you put your life into perspective and helps you really understand what you want to do with your life. And you should re-read the play. It’s really good and you will probably have more fun reading it than when I did in class.

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  40. Is that the guy who wrote The Crucible? Because I think we’re studying that in English in a couple of weeks’ time πŸ™‚

    Oh, and London really isn’t all that interesting. Why bother? There are better places to live for a year πŸ™‚ Trust me, I’ve lived there all my life. Greater London, admittedly, but…

    1. It is the same man. And I want to live in London because it’s the place I want to be. I love the culture, I love everything about it to be honest. And to live there has been one of my dreams for years, so no matter how interesting/beautiful it is, I’m going to live there no matter what. But thanks for your input.

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  43. Willy Loman was a success in a way. He was loved and supported by his wife, even though he cheated on her. His problem was that he had the wrong dream. He could have been happy working with his hands and living in the country, instead of trying to be like the salesman who died in his slippers on a train. And he was successful in another way — he inspired your blog post πŸ™‚

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  45. Great book and a great plan to dive into. Be aware, your plan requires going after goals, so make smart achievable goals, and remember they may not always happen as fast as you like them to (a lesson I myself am learning), but that doesn’t mean you give up on them. Always keep learning. Hope you achieve all your dreams!

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  47. Yes my underling you’ve done it again. You really do captures a readers attention with your wanting to reach out to others.
    You’ve mastered the personality traits to match people perfectly!
    Congrats on your great write!

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  49. Morgan ,
    Your enthusiasm and zest for living are truly admirable. Yep, Willy had a dream alright, but what he didn’t have was self knowledge. He had no inner life. There was a tragic disconnect between that dream of his and what was really going on in his life.

    This is a play that will stay with you and think of all the the wonderful works you’ve yet to read.

    1. Thank you. You know, very few people really understand Willy Loman, and while you are completely right about him not connecting his dreams and real life, I think people also don’t see that by being a dreamer, he also thought that the world would just be handed to him. It’s not that he didn’t make the connection as much as he didn’t work hard at getting to the dream.

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    1. This play really is good. I hope you enjoy it. And when you are reading it, really get to thinking about what it means to you. I did that and it really is a thought starter!

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  52. Great post. Congrats on being FP. I have just made a list myself, in honor of my birthday. I listed 50 things I wanted to do before my 50th birthday in two years. I am giving myself a short deadline because I don’t want to put off these things too long. Good luck on accomplishing your list!

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  54. I thought this was nice, and it truly is a brilliant play, but I have always found that once I achieve something I have achieved something I have always wanted to do (like travel through Europe) I find there is something I want to do in addition to that (like work in Europe and live the way locals do). So to me this means that we can never truly be satisfied with our lives as there is so much more out there for us to do, and we can never possibly do all of it.
    That’s not to say we shouldn’t ever do anything, and it is a nice list!

    1. I like what you say about having to add on to our lists, but I sort of disagree. If you add onto your list, it doesn’t mean you will never be satisfied. I think we will just have to figure which parts of our bucket lists are just more important so that we can find time to do those additional things.

      1. How would you suppose you feel then, if in a similar case to Willy Loman, you got to an age or a point in your life where you couldn’t satisfy your bucket list, and the great life you had planned, perhaps even tasted was suddenly unattainable? Such is the tragedy.
        My challenge to you, if you will accept it, is to find someone, anyone in history who has been seen to conquer life, completing everything they ever could have desired, and then passed peacefully.
        My point is that life is by nature a tragedy. This is why we cry at funerals. The loss of someone, no matter their age, is a tragedy because they can no longer experience the things they loved to do, like sell what Willy sold, and be respected and admired by those around him.

        1. Okay, so I went through with your challenge, and although I did not find anyone who was ‘great’ who set out to conquer life and completed their desires and died peacefully, I did find someone who was just your normal, average joe who did. My great grandfather did and it’s those people who inspire me I believe. And sure, maybe I will get to a point in my life where I am just unhappy and can’t conquer anything else on my bucket list. But I have promised to myself that I will not ever give up. For all I know, I will make a thousand changes to my bucket list, adding and deleting items. But whatever it is, I will never give up on my goals.

          1. I don’t intend to be cynical about family, particularly when I don’t know your life circumstances, but gathering that you are in high school therefore roughly the age of 15-18, and a very rough approximation of years between familial generations being 30, it would make your grandfather 105. Then, with the life expectancy of a man in 2009 (because thats the closest I could find) is 78.7 years. This means that for you to have been born in the same year he was expected to pass, you would have to be 27.
            I write all this because I am curious as to how well you knew your great grand father. While stories and memoirs are all well and good memoirs are written in a positive reflective light, as it is it’s register. While stories are mishandled like fairytales and evolve to something greater.
            “There are two things in life we cannot beat: death and taxes.” I don’t know who said it, but they are right. And while optimistically you may not want to ever give up, there comes a point when we all have to, because that is the human experience- to fail.

          2. First off, I’m 16. Not 27. I was born shortly after my great grandfather died at the age of 86. And yes, I mostly heard stories, but I think he was all that I said he was from the facts. And with what I’ve heard (which is all that I can truly go off of) I think he was all that. And nothing will change my mind.

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  58. The fact that you are pondering these things in high school tells me that you will not end up like Willy Loman, chasing after an unrealistic dream because you have no concept of what a real, attainable dream is.

    I’ve taught this play many times over the course of my teaching career, and I find that Biff is the most interesting character to me because the audience gets to watch him figure it all out in a way his father never does. The scene between the two of them in the kitchen near the end of act two is one of my favorite in all drama. Biff’s proud cry, “I am NOT a leader of men, Willy!” is one that makes me want to shout.

    To live a “productive” or “good” life doesn’t mean you need to make a ton of money, be famous, or leave some great mark on the world. Take Freddie Mercury’s advice and “find somebody to love,” live to help others, edify the world, and, above all, die daily to self in the service of Christ…THAT makes all the difference.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the play and that you took the time to share your thoughts! I, for one, truly appreicated them.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Personally, I find Happy to be my favorite character. Watching him sort of help everyone along while also having his own dramas really was something that I related to. But thank you for your thoughts and I’m happy you liked the post.

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  62. That’s a great list, and very attainable if you go after it. I never even set out to get into publishing but I’ve written for major magazines and now edit a horse magazine. I never imagined myself where I am… but perhaps I should have. πŸ˜€

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  66. Morgan, I loved this post. Instantly, I started thinking about the dreams I had when I was your age and how they’ve both changed and stayed the same. It even inspired me to write a post of my own (you’re featured in it). Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I read your article and I loved it. I’m really happy I inspired you to write it. You don’t know how much that just swells me with joy. And you are most certainly welcome for the inspiration. I hope I can give lots more of it!

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  68. These are great goals! They are so insightful, especially for someone your age. Great job! London is an incredible city, I hope that you make it there.

    Best wishes!

    1. Thank you so much elleswim! You don’t know how much it means to me when people tell me that they like my goals for life. I hope I make it to London and become a British person. Thank you so much!

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  70. I used to have a car much like that in the photo, a Morris estate traveller. It took me everywhere and most importantly to the land of my dreams and happiness. Good luck on the road and let that ‘Morris’ guide you.


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  72. just finished reading that in my 11th grade english class. but i am wondering why this book would compel you to write a bucket list. after all you say the point of the book is that Willy Loman had all these extravagant dreams and all he got was failure. What you have listed on your bucket list are lots of your dreams, that, no offense may not come true. Not to mention that they probably won’t live up to your expectations. i dont belive that willy’s story is about not having regrets but rather that the “American Dream” for most people does not come true. and that one should cut back long hopes (extravagant dreams), as it says in the great poet Horaces’s poem Carpe Diem. for living a full life is not about waiting your whole life for good things to happen to you as did Willy Loman.

    1. All right, I have a bone to pick with you. Although everything you have said is basically true and something I do not disagree with, I do have to say one thing. DOAS can be translated however by the reader. It is the reader’s job to be able to catch their own meanings out of a book/play/film. I felt that while I was reading DOAS and learning that Willy lived his whole waiting for things to happen to him, I realized that having goals is the first step to be an anti-Loman and actually getting things done. I wrote the list so that when I am doing thing I can remember what I want to accomplish and can do the things that will get me there. And yes, your comment is correct but I’m just saying what I think. To each their own:)

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  74. I love your list! Im 50 and I had a list similar to yours and it is all happening, the trick has been to always keep moving forward. I am working on the “writing” right now…and my daughters are not married yet. I really believe in the power of suggestion and the fact that you can create your life (somewhat anyway) I continue to make lists every year and it has brought me great joys and strength and new and exciting directions in my life. I would love to hear how yours turns out. Good Luck! Jeanne Hatch

    1. Thank you so much Jeanne! To know that someone else has done a bucket list and stuck through with it brings me hope that I can too. Thank you for commenting and may you finish everything on all of your lists!

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  82. Impressive how you have what you want in life noted down at a young age!i hope you get all what you want, but part of the entusiasm you talk about should be put in embracing the things that you dont plan. Enjoy whatever life gives you and every day should be an accomplishment. My thoughts are, leave some space for randomness, you never know maybe something will rock your world and is not on your list.
    πŸ˜€ glad to have read this post! goodluck!

    1. Thank you! And I completely agree with what your saying. Half of life is just enjoying what is given to you randomly. But it’s always nice for those Type A personalities like myself to have a few plans here and there.

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