Essay on The Failure of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman

1480 Words 6 Pages
America has long been known as a land of opportunity. Out of that thinking comes the "American Dream," the idea that anyone can ultimately achieve success, even if he or she began with nothing. In "The Death of a Salesman", Arthur Miller uses the characterization of Willy Loman to represent the failure of his ideal of the American Dream. Willy’s quest for the American Dream leads to his failure because throughout his life he pursues the illusion of the American Dream and not the reality of it. His mindset on perfection, obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence of the past and predictions of the future, all contribute to his defeat in the end.
The unachievable part of Willy’s view of the American Dream is perfection. He
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The success attained by Willy’s role models, Dave Singleman, his father, and his older brother Ben, is what he envisions as the American Dream. “Willy only visualized the end product, being successful, and not the process that they may have gone through to achieve that success. Willy thinks that Dave Singleman is the definition of success because he could make his living by calling clients from his room.” (www.echeat.com) He also thought that he was successful because when he died people from everywhere attended his funeral. The second successful role model was Willy’s father, who made a good living by selling flutes. In an encounter with his thoughts of the past, Willy listens to his brother Ben, who refers to their father by saying, "Great Inventor, Father. With one gadget he made more in a week than a man like you could make in a lifetime" (Miller 1575). Willy assumes that by being a salesman like his father was he is automatically guaranteed success, and that it wasn’t something that he would have to work for. The last role model that defined Willy’s view of success was his brother Ben. Throughout the play Willy talks with his brother Ben about success and it is evident that he is jealous of what Ben had accomplished in life. Ben states, “When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich." (Miller 1575) Willy is always trying to find out Ben’s secret to…