Destruction of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman

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Destruction of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman

A white picket fence surrounds the tangible icons of the American Dreams in the middle 1900's: a mortgage, an automobile, a kitchen appliance paid for on the monthly - installment - plan, and a silver trophy representative of high school football triumph. A pathetic tale examining the consequences of man's harmartias, Arthur Miller's "Death of A Salesman" satisfies many, but not all, of the essential elements of a tragedy. Reality peels away the thin layers of Willy Loman's American Dream; a dream built on a lifetime of poor choices and false values.

Although the characters are not of noble birth nor possess a heroic nature nor experience a reversal of
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For Biff, the idea of success is an easy loan from an ex-employer he has stolen from; for Hap, success is obtaining a promotion by waiting for "the merchandise manager to die." Inevitably, the Loman's unrealistic idea about success is one of the steps in their downfall.

Equally as damaging, the Loman family lacks the ability to make the necessary and suitable choices to pursue the American Dream. Although Willy is skillful with his hands and believes "a man who can't handle tools is disgusting," he chooses a lifetime career as a salesman, based on the fanciful image of his father who abandoned Willy as a child and on the image of an 84-year-old salesman who dies alone in a train car to Boston. Willy takes pride in the craftsmanship he put into their house, yet believes a salesman such as his father is "better than a carpenter." Furthermore, he questions the purpose of building because "some stranger'll come along, move in, and that's that." Ironically, Willy is a better carpenter than a salesman. He boasts on what an impact he makes on his clients, but in reality one of the reasons he has a sexual rendezvous with a secretary is to get through to the buyers. Willy makes another poor choice because of his hubris, or false pride, when he turns down Charley's job offer. Similarly, false pride and the inability to make appropriate choices lead to Hap and Biff choosing unsuitable occupations.
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