Failure of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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Failure of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller "forces the reader to deal with the failure of the American Dream"(Field 2367) and the effect it had on the Loman family, how it ruins the life of Willy, and destroys Biff’s life as well. By focusing on serious problems that the reader can relate to, Arthur Miller connects us with the characters facing these life-altering crisis.

To Willy Loman success is defined as being a well-liked businessman. As Willy grew up, his American Dream was to be able to “pick up his phone and call the buyers, and without ever leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, make his living.” (81) This is Willie’s dream, to be
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When Biff suggest that he does not belong in the business world, but rather as a blue collared worker, Willy falls back on this American ideal of “Even your grandfather was better than a carpenter.” (61) The more Biff begins to realize that the American Dream is not for him, or his father, the harder it is to pretend that he cares about it.

Biff denies the fact that the American Dream is not for him for over fifteen years. He has always claimed that he was just “finding himself”. Willy could not except the fact that Biff could get lost with the idea that “In the greatest country in the world [where] a young man with such personal attractiveness…and such a hard worker could get lost.” (16) This idea that anyone can make it big is all Willy believes in, “Be liked and you will never want.” (33) is the attitude that Willy has trusted in his whole life. Biff begins to understand that there is more to life then being liked, and selling products.

As Biff becomes less and less attached to the American Dream the closer he comes to happiness. “To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls , or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella.” (22) His whole life has been leading to the point when he acknowledges this fact and tells his father what
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