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In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, pride is the
central theme of the play and plays a role in many of the other themes such as
identity, values, legacy, change and honesty. Willy’s identity is heavily
influenced by his false sense of pride, as it is the driving force of his
decisions, the cause of his behaviour in society and within his relationships.
The stubborn nature of his pride hinders his ability to learn from his mistakes
and change from his obstructed mindset which has negative consequences that
lead him to his own demise and continue to have lasting effects on his family,
making false pride his tragic flaw.

Pride is a state of being
proud, but the pride that Willy also displays is that of having a dignified
sense of what is due to oneself. Willy’s pride is false because of his unwarranted
and highly exaggerated opinion about himself and his arrogance, when in reality
he has nothing to be proud of. Willy’s lack of accomplishment and failure also
stems from the fact that Willy’s false pride causes him to think so highly of
himself which in turn allows him to continuously strive for outdated goals that
he can never possibly be able to achieve. Part of this comes from his blinding
values and his ideas of success and how they are devoid of any flaws which
allow him to keep making the same mistakes.

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Pride also functions a coping
mechanism for Willy to deal with the reality of a world that he has nothing to
be proud of in regards to his financial situation and his failings as a
salesman and as a father. Willy Loman’s false pride derails him into a life of delusion
where he has become divorced from reality in his pursuit of an illusion he
can’t give up. Willy lives in a belief that it is not knowledge but who you
know and how well-liked you are that would make you successful. “Willy fails to
see the folly of his dream and ends up passing on not only his dream but also
his confusion to Biff and Happy” (Centola, 32)

Willy Loman’s false pride
leads him to believe that he has been successful as a father. He remembers how
he was once looked up by his children, especially by his son Biff. However,
Willy fails to realize that the relationship he once had with his son Biff has
been broken, due to the fact that Biff caught Willy in an affair he was having
with The Woman. Willy makes it seem as if he played no part in the destruction
of Biff’s education, and that it was solely Biff’s fault. However, Willy knows
the real reason why Biff dropped out on his education. He knows that Biff was
angry at him for what happened at the hotel and lives his life in denial because
Willy has so much pride in himself that he will always convince himself that he
has done his best, even when he knows that he has done wrong.

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