Essay about The American Dream in "Death of a Salesman"

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Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ is an examination of American life and consumerism. It relates the story of a common man who portrays this lifestyle. Other issues explored in the play include: materialism, procrastination and alienation. The play was set in 1948, in a time where The American Dream was highly regarded, despite the Depression. The American Dream was a belief that emerged in the later half of the nineteenth century, that if you work hard you will achieve success and prosperity. The American Dream affects our view of Willy Loman as a tragic hero because he is convinced that the way to achieve a better life is by living the American Dream. Willy Loman believes that he will find success with the American Dream through his…show more content…
In Willys case, the presence of his American Dream is shattered when he is fired from his job. The reason behind this is Willy Lomans inability to carry on working successfully.

Miller uses Willy Loman’s brother Ben as an example of someone who has achieved the American Dream. From the play the audience knows that Ben accomplished the American Dream through his independence and diamond mines. He says “...when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty one I walked out. [He laughs.] And by God I was rich.” Willy looks up to his brother, and respects his views a lot. When Willy is hallucinating into the past, he thinks about the chance he had to join Ben; make his fortune and live his American Dream. Willy exclaims, "Why didn't I go to Alaska with my brother Ben that time!...that man was success incarnate! What a mistake!..." Willy did not take this chance and he regrets it, and he uses it an excuse for his failure. This gives the audience an idea that the American Dream did not affect our view of Willy Loman as a tragic hero. Rather, his unrealistic dreams and laziness were to blame. Biff talks about Willy's dreams, “He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong.” Miller shows how the American Dream is nothing but an illusion. He does this through Willy's upbringing of Biff. When Biff says, “I realised what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been.” He is referring to his father’s illusions of success for him are simply just illusions.
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