The American Dream and Death of a Salesman Essay

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The American Dream is one of the most sought-after things in the United States, even though it is rarely, if ever, achieved. According to historian Matthew Warshauer, the vision of the American Dream has changed dramatically over time. In his 2003 essay “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Changing Conceptions of the American Dream”, Warshauer claims that the American Dream had gone from becoming wealthy by working hard and earning money, to getting rich quickly and easily. He attributes this change to television game shows, state lotteries, and compensation lawsuits. He also argues that most Americans are more concerned with easy money than hard-earned money, and that Americans care mostly about material goods such as consumer products, big…show more content…
This shows Willy’s and Biff’s obsession with material goods and consumer products, just as Warshauer claims. In addition, in Warshauer’s essay, he observes that “rather than adhering to a traditional work ethic, far too many Americans are pinning their hopes on ‘easy money’”. The characters of Willy and his two sons, Happy and Biff, prove this. At the end of the play, Willy kills himself in a car crash in order to get insurance money for his family, hoping that Happy and Biff will use that money to start their own business. This shows that instead of continuing to work and make money, he kills himself to get some “easy money” for his family. Also, Happy and Biff plan on becoming successful businessmen, despite failing school. Biff dropped out of high school after failing math, and Happy works as an assistant to an assistant in a department store, where he makes very little money. Although Biff acknowledges his failure, Happy acts as if he had the greatest job ever. He seems to be blissfully unaware of the world around him, and seems to only be interested in girls than actually trying to improve his position. Both Happy and Biff seem to expect success to come to them, hoping to make “easy money”. Warshauer also comments that “in a society dedicated to capitalism … the ability to buy a big house and a nice car separates those who are considered successful from those who are not”. This is shown to be true in Death of a Salesman,
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