Between Reality and Fantasy: A Psychoanalytic Study of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of the Salesman


  • Ahmed Jalal Lecturer, Department of English, Edwardes College, Peshawar
  • Kifayatullah Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, University of Chitral
  • Syed Hanif Rasool Assistant Professor, Department of English, Khushal Khan Khattak University, Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


Death of the Salesman, Willy Loman, Defense Mechanisms, Abnormal Behavior


This study investigates the impetus behind Willy Loman's aberrant behavior in Arthur Miller's Death of the Salesman. Despite aspiring to become a famous businessman, embodying the struggle of American society to materialize the American Dream, Willy ultimately fails despite his steadfast ambitions. The unfavorable circumstances, such as the challenging capitalist society, the high ideals of the American dream, and the parasitic consumerist culture, all retard his efforts in establishing his career: resulting in consistent failure, he starts exhibiting abnormal behavior. Utilizing Freudian defense mechanisms such as regression, denial, repression, and displacement, this article aims to explain the incongruent personality of Willy Loman in his unpromising endeavor to safeguard himself from anxiety and depression. Focusing on the protagonist's attitude towards his family and the abnormal behavior he manifests throughout the story, the paper employs textual analysis to argue that Willy cannot cope with reality and, therefore, in denying reality, takes haven in the self-imagined disillusioning realm of success. Willy associates his failure with others, repressing the unpleasant realities and regressing the present he feels is unfavorable, creating an illusionary world around him in which he is the most successful Salesman. The study concludes that Willy's illusions of Willy result from various psychological propensities that he unconsciously adopts to face the unsettling situation.




How to Cite

Ahmed Jalal, Kifayatullah, & Syed Hanif Rasool. (2023). Between Reality and Fantasy: A Psychoanalytic Study of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of the Salesman. Pakistan Journal of Society, Education and Language (PJSEL), 10(1), 291–299. Retrieved from