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Willy Loman is the protagonist. He is a traveling salesman, the low man of popular United States culture, who believes in the false promises of the American Dream.
The antagonist is the false promise of the American Dream, which makes people believe that anyone in the United States can become rich through only hard work, perseverance, or personality. The dream also seems to say that the individual need not master any form of skill or profession to make it big. Unfortunately, Willy is overcome by his dreams and illusions during the course of the play. He is fired by the company that he believes will promote him; he is rejected by his sons, for whom he has worked and struggled; and he is forced to see that his life and his philosophies are lies.
Biff, Willy's son, makes his father see that both he and Willy are failures, who will never obtain the American Dream. Biff makes his father realize the emptiness of their lives and the unimportance of being well liked. Willy Loman cannot face or accept this reality.
The play ends in tragedy. Willy commits suicide in order to financially provide for his family, especially to safeguard Biff's future with the receipt of Willy's twenty thousand dollar insurance policy.