The Dysfunctional American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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The Dysfunctional American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

In the American society, it is thought that if you work hard, no matter what circumstances, you can become rich and powerful. You can overcome deep poverty to become the richest man alive. This superhuman absurdity is what is referred to as the "American Dream." Day after day, Americans struggle to achieve fame and prosperity, only to find failure and heartbreak. The American Dream in today's society is dead and is proven several times through plays, poetry, and essays.

The perfect example of the dysfunctional American Dream is that of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy innermost desires result in lies and extreme failure.
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He goes to such extremes that he fools himself into a deep state of depression (Clurman, 133). The Dream that Willy strives so badly to achieve is one filled with flaw upon flaw. First of all, he's dreaming of all the wrong things. Biff says "He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong, he never knew who he was" (Miller, 177). Willy is a man of confusion and distress (Clurman, 134). He should be longing for things such as love and companionship rather than money (Garrison). Willy led a meaningless life where his wife was a part of the problem rather than the solution. Her supposed undying loyalty and love only fueled the fire rather than solve the problem (Garrison). "In her admiration of his dreams, it is lethal." (Garrison). In the essence of support, Linda is Willy's number one fan, but to no prevail, she only feeds his lies. Another problem of Willy's dream is that he gives himself too much credit. He continually goes on in the play about how he is well know in all of New England as a great salesman (Miller, 121). But in actuality, he is a mediocre, aging has-been. He puts on a mask for the most detrimental person: himself. It is the lying to himself that kills Willy's soul. His constant striving of a goal that a man of his nature just could never achieve is extremely harmful to his sanity. Biff says, "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!" Willy replies, "I am not a dime a dozen!