Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, examines the destructive myth built around the American Dream and in it he offers an indictment on the American capitalist system. Through the protagonist, Willy Loman, Miller demonstrates the struggles of obtaining the American Dream in a shallow and materialistic capitalist society. However, throughout the drama we see that the main character, Willy doesn't even realize he is living in a capitalist society and continues to use the wrong methods to attain success and accomplish his version of American dream. In the end, it is Willys false beliefs that lead to his demise. The setting of the story takes place in Boston, and New York City (Miller 1429). In the beginning of the drama, the setting is described as a very stereotypical American household. In the home “there is a kitchen table with three chairs”, and “at the back of the kitchen there is a draped entrance, which leaders to the living room”. Also, “on a shelf over the bed a silver athletic trophy stands”(Miller 1429). The description of Willy Loman's home is used to illustrates the American capitalist dream of homeownership. In particular, the “silver authentic trophy”(Miller 1429) represents competition within the American capitalist system. However, the setting description also includes “towering angular shapes behind it, surround it on all sides”(Miller 1429). Ironically, what Willy wants most in life is freedom, but he is trapped in a society that is dominated by big
Many workers today go through a low time or a struggle and give up. Today’s workers do not necessarily commit suicide when they are in a low point but they do things such as quitting the job or relying on government assistance. Willy strives to achieve the American dream and he eventually realizes that he has failed and gives up on life. This dream is a belief in America and that all things are possible if you work hard enough (Criticism of ' the American Dream' in 'Death of a Salesman'). Arthur Miller uses this story to expose the problems with pursuit of such a dream: “What Miller attacks, then, is not the American Dream of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, but the dream as interpreted and pursued by those for whom ambition replaces human need and the trinkets of what Miller called the ‘new American Empire in the making’ are taken as tokens of true value” (Bigsby). “Death of a Salesman” creates a challenge to the American Dream and shows that an American should live a prosperous and plentiful life instead of get lost and die tragically (Criticism of ' the American Dream' in 'Death of a Salesman'). Gradually throughout the play, Willy gets farther and farther away from achieving his idea of the American Dream. His income slowly decreases to nothing: “as a salesman, Willy stages a performance for buyers, for his sons, for the father who deserted him, the brother he admired. Gradually, he loses his audience, first the buyers, then his son, then his boss” (Bigsby). His problem is that he completely surrenders to the American Dream and by the team he realizes his mistake, he has nothing to fall back on (Panesar). If Willy would have embraced his natural talent for manual labor and his family’s love for the countryside, the Lomans could have a totally different lifestyle (Panesar). Towards the end of the play, Willy became overwhelmed
In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller’s, the Lowman family is incapable of deciphering and understanding differentiate between reality and fantasy. This theme of reality versus fantasy is seen recurring throughout the play, which even provokes the demise of Willy Lowman. Throughout the play the value and importance of the American dream of becoming successful is heavily perused and pried upon. The play is set in the mid-20th century when men in America were fixed upon notable accomplishment for them and their families, and in the pursuit of a life indulge in luxury. Willy in particular, has a lust for monetary accumulations. In other words, he is thus in pursuit of the extant of the American dream, the goal of which is to obtain immense wealth
In playwright Arthur Miller 's story, Death of a Salesman, written in postwar 1949, the protagonist Willy Loman wants nothing more than to live the American Dream. His insatiable hunger for wealth causes him to prioritize making money above all his other responsibilities. When Willy gets fired from his job he becomes disillusioned with the concept of the American Dream, realizing the achievement is not guaranteed, and ends his life by suicide.
Many immigrants come to the United States in search of the American Dream, an idea that one can start from the bottom of the employment food chain in hopes to become successful and live a comfortable life, despite what your background may have been. In The Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller portrays this idea of the American Dream through an everyday, run-of-the-mill character, Willy Loman. While he did not immigrate to America, he still chases the American Dream ideal. He finds himself in dire need of financial support, and his job is unable to supply him with the amount that he needs. Willy faces several conflicts, both external and internal, throughout the play, and these conflicts affect his relationship with other characters, specifically
Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman tells the tale of Willy Loman, American salesman and father of two sons who is desperately trying to achieve the American Dream for his family. When the play was published in 1949, just after the end of World War II and at the dawn of one of the most prosperous decades in American history, things were looking very optimistic for America. The United States had emerged as an economic superpower in which all of its citizens had the opportunity to become rich and build a better future for their children, as many returned from fighting in the most destructive conflict in human history. Although many people work hard in America most people never achieve their goal of endless wealth. This is something that has always
All the characters throughout this play represent a part of the American Dream. Willy Loman is a traveling salesman who obsesses over the possibilities of the American Dream. He believes in the simplicity of becoming rich and successful. Throughout his life he has become unsuccessful in achieving his dream, so he raises his sons to strive
Howard Wagner, Willy’s boss is not a very happy person and was not a big fan of Willy Loman and the way he did business. Wagner gradually got Willy out of the business, first he downgraded him to commission only so he only got paid if he made sales and when that failed as well he eventually just fired him. He continued to tell himself everything was ok and he pushed away the fact that his life was a letdown. His brother ben said to him “You must go into the jungle and fetch out a diamond”. Mr.Loman was so caught up in the fact that he lost his job and can’t provide for the family anymore that he relied on the American Dream to get him through the rest of his life. Accepting defeat would have helped Willy to get back on track to success, but if you can’t handle the truth it won’t be as easy. Willy Loman was never a very rich man but at the same time he was never a very poor man either and he refuses to start living the life of poverty. Even though he is insecure he is a man of his pride and he never wants his family to be down or see that he Is feeling down. For example Willy says to his wife Linda “I won’t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out!” he looks at that as his wife accepting the fact of poverty and whether Willy has to lie to himself or her no poverty will be seen in the Loman house.
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman revolves specifically around the economic myth of the American Dream. As a man reared in the American cult of success, Willy embraced the Dream as the sacred American ideal. His personal credo was based on the knowledge that, in this classless society, with abundant opportunities, anyone may climb the ladder of success.
Arthur Miller created stories that express the deepest meanings of struggle. Miller is the most prominent twentieth-century American playwrights. He based his works on his own life, and his observations of the American scene. Arthur Asher Miller was born 17 October 1915 in Manhattan, New York city. He was the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland. His parents had a prosperous clothing company. Unfortunately when the stock market crashed, because his family invested all of their money in the market, they lost everything. The family then moved to a small house in Brooklyn. This happened during miller’s teen years, and because of that miller was shaped by the poverty that surrounded him. Miller saw the fragility and vulnerability of humans, when they are faced with a great economic crisis. Miller graduated as an average student from Abraham Lincoln high school. And due to financial reasons, he worked in an auto part warehouse, and during this time he has come across anti-Semitism, which became a major theme of his later work (Marino). After getting rejected two times, Miller got enrolled into the University of Michigan, and he started his career as a playwright at Michigan. In his sophomore year miller wrote No Villain, which is his first play. This play earned him a scholarship money. In his college years, Miller won several awards for writing plays. He graduated from college in 1938, and returned to New York, where he worked as a
Arthur Miller is one of the most successful and enduring playwrights of the post-war era in America. He focuses on middle-class anxieties since the theme of anxiety and insecurity reflects much of Arthur Miller’s own past. The play addresses loss of identity and a man’s inability to change within him and society (Miller 16). The "American Dream" has been an idea that has motivated society for centuries. It often times becomes the main theme for many movies, novels, and poems. In, "The Death of a Salesman" main character Willy Loman decides he wants to make this dream a reality. He soon is faced with this reality when his idea of the "American Dream" he had been working for turns out to be unattainable. The American dream vision of economic opportunity is available to all those who work for it regardless of race or class. Wily Loman represented the primary target of the dream (Miller 20). Just as most middle-class working people, he struggles to support his family with financial security and had dreams about making himself a huge financial success. After years of working as a traveling salesman, he has only an old car, an empty house and defeated spirit. Dysfunctional family tragedy helps to keep the American Dream alive. Linda and Happy work very hard to keep the fantasy of the dream of success alive. Dysfunctional Loman family, the wife is restricted to the role of housekeeping and bolstering her husband’s sense of self-importance and purpose (Miller 60). Linda juggles
In the tragic play, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Miller shows the dark side of those living in America who strive for success. The play follows a 63-year-old struggling salesman living in the late 1940’s by the name of Willy Loman. Willy aspires to be wealthy and known by living out the American Dream so he could support himself and his family. However, Willy, being the tragic hero, ultimately fails in completing any of his goals. The suffering brought upon by Willy Loman and his obsession with the American Dream contributes to the tragic vision of the play as a whole because Willy was destined to fail at the get-go, his vision of the American Dream conceals reality, and Willy’s beliefs that he holds dear are false.
The American Dream is the ideal of working hard to achieve success within the United States, and as our nation evolves into a new technological revolution, in which oppresses that of the Old World, it becomes harder to define what the true meaning of success is, just as in the play “Death of a Salesman,” written by Arthur Miller. The characters in the play each struggle to find what the American Dream actually is in attempt to gain success within it. Each of the Loman men pursue their own ideals of what the American Dream means to them, and as a result, they deviate from the important things in life in attempts to mold and innovate their own version of the dream. The main character of the play, Willy Loman, a diluted man who believes having a prominent personality is the key to success, replaces the real interpretation of the American dream- prosperity and hard-work ethic- with an empty dream motivated by his brother Ben who believed that starting from nothing and creating a fortune was the American Dream. Willy is adamant in coercing his two son’ s into his own definition of success, in which deteriorates as he realizes that personality nor good looks can pay his bills or earn him the respect he deems plausible. As the play concludes, Willy and his family all realize that he has pursued a hollow life, ultimately meaning that he’s chosen the “wrong” dream.
The play presents the conflict between an individual’s capability and limitations to grip a place in the world of trade, and the requirements of a capitalistic society. It shows the disillusionment of Willy Loman resulted from misinterpreted notions of success. Willy Loman, an ordinary, sensitive individual is trying to ascertain his identity in a world where rapid urbanization and crumbling human values corrode his soul continuously. Amidst growing materialism human spirit incessantly craves for a fine and beautiful dream. Willy has found himself in a society where beautiful dream means the dream of having success at hand. It is fully reluctant to embrace the ill-fated people. Moreover the success oriented society undermines its unproductive inhabitants: “Willy, but there is just no spot here for you. If I had a spot I’d slam you right in, but I just don’t have a single solitary spot” (Miller,
Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman was a hit nearly from its debut, and its importance to American literature and theater has not diminished in the over half a century since its first performance in 1949. However, the specific areas of the play that have most intrigued critics have changed over time, as different historical, social, and literary concerns lead critics to come up with different interpretations. By analyzing three different critical responses to Death of a Salesman, it will be possible to not only understand the play better, but also actually see how the reception of the play has changed as society's standards of criticism and discourse changed over the intervening years. One is able to see how shifting views on patriarchy lead to a change in the play's reception, and particularly the characterization of Willy Loman, who transforms from a tragic, albeit flawed man into the contemptible lackey of a patriarchal, capitalist society that has little regard for human health or happiness.