Willy Loman, Jay Gatsby, and the Pursuit of the American Dream

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Willy Loman, Jay Gatsby, and the Pursuit of the American Dream Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, and Arthur Miller, author of Death of a Salesman, both tell the stories of men in the costly pursuit of the American dream. As a result of several conflicts, both external and internal, both characters experience an extinction of the one thing that they have set their sights on.... The American Dream.

Jay Gatsby, a mysterious, young and very wealthy man, fatally chases an impossible dream. Gatsby attempts to rekindle an old relationship and has confidence in repeating the past. Gatsby claims that he is going to “fix everything just the way it was before” (Fitzgerald 117). In a a
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Willy foolishly pursues the wrong dream and constantly lives in an unreal world blinded from reality. Despite his dream Willy constantly attempts to live in an artificial world and claims “If old Wagner was alive I’d be in charge of New York by now” (Miller 14). As a result, Willy often ignores his troubles and denies any financial trouble when he says “business is bad, it’s murderous. But not for me of course” (Miller 51). Another false segment of Willy’s dream includes the success of his two sons Happy and Biff. Biff was a high school football star who never cared about academics and now that he needs a job says “screw the business world” (Miller 61). Ironically, Willy suggests that Biff go west an “be a carpenter, or a cowboy, enjoy yourself!”, an idea that perhaps Willy should have pursued. Constantly advising his boys of the importance of being well liked, Willy fails to stress academics as an important part of life (Miller 40). Furthermore, Willy dies an unexpected death that reveals important causes of the failure to achieve the American dream. At the funeral Linda cries “I made the last payment on the house today... and there’ll be nobody home” to say that she misses Willy but in essence his death freed the Lomans from debt and the hopes and expectations Willy placed on his family (Miller 139). Very few people attend
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