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What Is The Relationship Between Death Of A Salesman And The American Dream

Decent Essays
America is often called “the land of opportunity,” but this is not often the case. Playwright Arthur Miller essays this question in his American tragedy, Death of a Salesman. The protagonist, Willy, spends his life working towards the American Dream. Owing to bad business and low wages, Willy's disappointing quest ultimately leads him to his death. Although Americans believe the American Dream is attainable, Miller presents a different reality full of failure and false hope, proving that effort only guarantees a chance for success. Like many Americans, Willy holds the conviction that through purposeful application, the American Dream can be attained. This is evident when Willy tries to teach Biff a lesson in steadfastness, saying, “The world…show more content…
Willy tries to teach this lesson regularly as it is “the spirit [he] want[s] to imbue” (52) in Biff and Happy. Another example of Willy’s belief in the American Dream occurs as a figment of his imagination. In this vision, Willy takes advice…show more content…
Immediately after Biff returns home, Willy antagonizes him for lacking a corporate job. Finally, to make his father happy, Biff agrees to meet with Mr. Oliver, a former boss of Biff. Before Biff’s meeting, Willy expects him to get “no less than fifteen thousand dollars” (67) from Mr. Oliver and that if Biff had stayed working with Mr. Oliver “he’d be on top by now” (67). After his failed meeting, Biff recognizes that his father has blown his reputation out of proportion and that he “was a shipping clerk” (138) rather than the salesman Willy had made Biff out to be. It’s at this point that Biff admits to himself that he is not the son that his father wants him to be. Biff wants to raise cattle and loves “the work and the food and time to sit and smoke,” (132) not things typically associated with the American Dream. While Biff’s desires are completely different from Willy’s conception of the American Dream, Biff is not alone in his thinking. The Library of Congress notes that “others look toward a new American Dream with less focus on financial gain and more emphasis on living a simple, fulfilling
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