The Illusion of the “American Dream”

1408 WordsNov 21, 20116 Pages
The phrase “American Dream” has often been ascribed to the prosperity of the United States, but the explication of this expression lacks consistency amongst the citizens in this country. The diversity of opinions comprised in the American society causes significant variation to the interpretation of this term from person-to-person. An example of these discrepancies is depicted in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. In this play, Miller uses several different characters as a function to illustrate the widespread disparity of beliefs regarding the appropriate philosophy for the pursuit of happiness in America. Willy Loman (the central character in the play) is used to represent a highly capitalistic society. On the other hand, Willy’s son…show more content…
Shipping clerk, salesman, business of one kind or another. And it’s a measly manner of existence… And always having to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still—that’s how you build a future” (Miller 22). Biff’s statements in this excerpt illustrate how he tried to mimic the example set by his father, but discovered that his efforts gained him no satisfaction. In this passage, Biff also mentions his irritation about the lack of rest given to workers in America: “To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation” (Miller 22). It is well known that workers in socialist societies are given more time off a year, in order to rest and refresh their minds and bodies. Consequently, this statement serves to refute Willy’s beliefs, due to his readily apparent exhaustion from an excessive workload over his career. By including this passage early in the play, Miller demonstrates two opposing viewpoints pertaining to certain ideology’s present in the American society. As the narrative progresses, Biff’s beliefs begin to solidify, creating a further rift between himself and his father, while also displaying the rift between socialism and capitalism. The culmination of this tension reaches its apex when Biff and his father get into one final argument. Biff conveys his realization that he wants no part of the ruthless world of business: “Why am I trying to become something I don’t want to be?” (Miller 132). Biff’s statement is emblematic for not only

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