The American Dream In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

Decent Essays

The prospect of the American Dream destroying an individual rests upon the definition and action of that same individual. What one individual may see as a success in their pursuit of happiness may very well be seen as a failure in another’s. Some believe that the “law which says that a failure in society and in business has no right to live. Unlike the law against incest, the law of success is not administered by stature or church, but is nearly as powerful in its grip upon men” (Benziman, 32). This definition of failure being unacceptable within a society was one that Miller’s father adhered to, as he was never able to overcome his failure in his business. Ironically, it is also the definition that the society of Death of a Salesman believes in as well. Though such a definition should not be used as the only way to determine the components of the American Dream, it is nonetheless one that has mistakenly been characterized as the more acceptable one; that a man is of no worth if he can’t succeed in his goals.
This definition of a man being worthless unless he is successful causes a crippling effect upon Willy. He sees that the only route to be truly happy is to, not only be a huge success for his family (in terms of wealth), but to be seen as a success by his family. Ultimately this has a devastating outcome upon Willy, as he is not able to confess his failures to his family members, as it would mean that he accepts defeat in his failure to succeed in his Dream (Miller,

Get Access