Death Of A Salesman And The Novel Of America

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Throughout the play Death of a Salesman and the novella Of Mice and Men, both Miller and Steinbeck make very clear what each of their characters’ hopes, aspirations and dreams are in life. By doing so, both writers are able to shed light on their own critical views of the “American Dream”. The term “American Dream” was coined by the American historian J.T. Adams in his book “The Epic of America”, published in 1931, at the time of the Great Depression in the USA. He used the term to try and encapsulate the social, political, economic and religious strands of life in America: “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or…show more content…
His underlying message in Of Mice and Men seems to be that dreams can give meaning to a man’s life but the dream needs to be realistic and true to that character and not imposed by others. In Death of a Salesman Willy Loman believes that, in order to succeed in American society and everyday life, you need to be wealthy and popular amongst your peers and this is what Willy dreams of. George and Lennie’s dream in Of Mice and Men has some resemblance to this, although far less materialistic, as they aspire to be self-sufficient and, as Lennie says, “live offa the fatta the lan’.”Willy in many ways aspires to be like his brother, Ben, a character who is at the forefront of a lot of Willy’s flashbacks. Ben has had, in Willy’s eyes, “success” in life, despite being a cheat and having very few morals. Evidence of this is dramatically revealed when, having accepted a punch in the arm by Biff, Ben trips Biff up and says “Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never [be successful] that way.” This scene epitomises Willy and Ben’s attitudes towards success in life – no matter how corrupt and morally bankrupt you are, as long as you make big money and are popular then it doesn’t matter. In fact Willy’s thinking becomes so warped that towards the end of the play the reader learns that Willy is willing to die, not only to get insurance money for his family,
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