Willy Lowman’s Tragic Misinterpretation of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman

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Barack Obama made history by being elected President of the United States, twice. This is just one more example that the American Dream is without a doubt achievable. Its pursuit is not easy; it requires undeniable hard work, modesty and optimism. Armed with these characteristics, seekers of this lifestyle will undeniably succeed. Success, though, is an interesting concept, for it can entail many superficial qualities. Willy Loman, the tragic hero of the play Death of a Salesman, sees only the superficial qualities of this dream. He views success solely as likeability (linked with attractiveness), and wealth. Ignoring all methods to honorably achieve these, Arthur Miller demonstrates how Willy’s search for the superficial qualities of the …show more content…

The fact that Charley kept asking him was a pure insult solely because of the superficial qualities of the job. He needed the money, but his shallow view of the American dream led him to believe that a carpenter, even with a steady income, wasn’t a respected or likeable job. This lack of money led to his despair, and was definitely a factor in the salesman’s death.

Similarly, Willy's downfall continues with the judgment of himself and others, due to his superficial likeability goals. For example, Willy blamed his lack of likeability and success as a salesman on his appearance. “I’m fat. I’m very – foolish to look at…I’m not dressing to advantage…” The tragic hero’s shielded vision stops him from seeing that it is himself, not his appearance that leads him to his failure at being a salesman. Hence, since he cannot accept the facts, his career never improves and he is fired from his job, shattering his perceived chance at the American Dream. In addition, Willy strongly disliked Bernard merely because he was stereotyped as a nerd. The salesman would say to Biff’s tutor’s face, “Don’t be a pest, Bernard! …What an anemic.” Willy barely knew Charley’s son, nevertheless he evaluated him solely on his appearance. Willy seemed to do the same thing with his children. He was glad that they were “…both built like Adonises”, thinking that would lead them to success.

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