What is Arthur Miller trying to say about the American Dream in Death of a Salesman?
Death of salesman by Arthur Miller can into play in 1949, a period following the Great Depression and the Wall Street Crash with aim portraying themes in success and failures. They are many symbols in the play representing Willy’s failures and success attempts such as the tape recorder, apartment building, seeds from the garden and Willy’s brother Ben. Some of the themes portrayed by Death of Salesman are family, respect, business success and financial success. Early in playing, Willy is having some emotional issues which are causing hear to have conversation with ben a dead brother. Willy had also a wife named Linda, and two sons Biff and Happy with neither one living up to the dream he wished for them. When young and strong, Willy was striving to achieve success like his father who was an entrepreneur by making wooden flutes. In the play, Willy’s father success is portrayed by the use of flute melody and the actual melody of grass and trees differentiated the life Willy lived while young and the one he is living at his old age while working for someone in an overcrowded area in New York. This essay will focus on the theme striving for an American dream.
The dream of being successful vendor was the American dream in the 1900’s and the society to achieve it. Willy, at the age 63 years in the beginning of the play was fixated and captivated by the American Dream observed from his flashback and character inclusion from his past. He pictured how much better life ought to and could be with a proud family. For more than thirty years Willy Loman strived for his American dream to become a wealthy salesman with failed miserably in reality unlike his idol Dave Singleman who made fortune easily. Some of the reason Miller illustrate that lead to fail of Willy American dream was his individual connection and impression was not a guarantee for any financial success. This appeared to remark on the idea of American culture and how it is changing becoming insecure. Through flash backs Willy even tries disclose to his sons on how to be fruitful in America by arguing that the man who gets ahead is the one who creates personal interest and make appearance in business world. In early days, Willy believed to have reached peak of his American Dream since he personally took interest in his business and was well liked but contrary his fellow salesmen mocked him behind his back and allover sudden he could see his material wealth crumble. Willy’s unsteadiness in his personal life was a reflection of society he was born that believed to be respected, and have solid identity you need material possessions and financial wealth. Miller also portrays how customers do not like Willy bring the idea of how modern American society is machine based with material thing breaking down the personal relations in people. For instance, charley who is Willy neighbor is a respected person due to his economic success which is enabling him to control other people. The absence of the products that willy sells also demonstrate the reality of personal instability where American dream is shifting into vague idea of associating success with object instead of personality and human interaction which matters most.
The idea of striving to achieve American dream faced betray and abandonment which has led to its failure. Willy father left him at young age leaving him with ben his older brother. Afterwards, ben also left to Alaska with led Willy to losing himself and his pursuit to American dream. Due to the abandonment in early age, Willy feared that his family goals and try to conform to his American dream although he failed. Biff the oldest son of Willy also left home without informing his father of whereabouts made Willy felt betrayed by one of his dream. During biff childhood, Willy work hard to ensure his son achieved his own dream and with biffs prolonged absence shattered his father’s dream at multiple times. Constantly, when Biff was back home endeavoring to get himself , Willy trusted Biff was into something extraordinary when he went to speak with Mr. Oliver only for his dream to be failed by Biff whom together with his brother Happy forsake their father in a restroom. Also Willy’s wife Linda betrays her husband by staying along at home while he is traveling throughout northeaster United State chasing his American dream for his family. Linda is also abandoned by his sons alone after they grew up and moved out. Due to loneliness Willy experience as a result of being betrayed by his family while chasing the American dream, he is involved in an affair with a woman he met in a Boston hotel. Biff after realizing about his father affair he feels ashamed of him to the extent of distancing himself from his father with made him change his characters and rebel against those in authority. During the play willy is telling his wife how paying house off with no one living in it and during Willy funeral Linda says how she made last payment for the house thus proving trying to live American dreams has also consequences. Trying to live up to his American dream and sacrificing himself, he never reaps the benefit of his labor yet he abandoned and betrayed his wife.
Biff the son of Willy is portrayed as a personal pulled by different dreams one of his own involving nature and working for his own and the other one involving his father’s field of business and capitalism. He is portrayed as a person with inner conflicts which are hindering him from achieving his right American dream. In the play, Biff say to his brother how if pleasing working in a ranch There’s nothing more inspiring or beautiful than the sight of a mare and a new colt. And it’s cool there now, see? Texas is cool now, and its spring (Bradford, 2018). At the end biff acknowledges how his father was good in hand’s work and suggest that his father should have pursed other dreams such a carpenter instead chasing multitude dreams such as selling unidentified products which failed his dream . With Biff realizing importance of following the right dreams, he swore not to follow his father’s dream but pursue his own which will involve old-fashioned manual labor because success should not be measure in material or wealth but in social norms.
Charlie, Willy’s neighbor who has an effective deal firm together with Linda are voice of reason in the play. Linda is the arbiter between his sons and husband thus bring the peace back to the family. The American dream of peaceful family is crumbled by disappointments between father and the sons who have not yet settled down at the age of thirty years. Linda acts as the defender of Willy whom she comprehends as worn out and pushed beyond limit while trying to achieve his dream. Linda beliefs freedom is escape from obligation and with aggregate material and riches that symbolizes achievement and stability in today society in order to fulfill the American dream. Linda is also internally conflicted due to Willy’s obsession with American dream although she figured out how to keep her emotional solidness unblemished. Linda with clarity foresees her husband end would be devastating. Charlie also has on few events endeavored to show Willy the way to success since he had already achieved his American dream evident by his successful firm. Despite the fact he does not care much for him, Charlie recognized Willy’s financial struggles and even offers him a job.
In order to achieve American believe, hard work is also essential as evident by Bernard who is a good Charlie’s son. Bernard was Biff friend during their child hood but he was hardworking which made him become a successful lawyer. Bernard at the end of play argues that it difficult to deal with success but for someone to realize their American dreams they have to maximize every opportunity they get. Uncle Ben maximized his opportunity in Africa and became rich and successful in diamond mines as a result of maximizing his opportunities.
To wind up, American dream was an idea where life would be better with opportunity for everyone with ability to achieve their goals. It is a dream that every woman and man will have the capacity to the greatest stature that they are characteristically prepared to do, to which they will be recognized by others for what they are regardless of the coincidental conditions realized by birth or social position. Unfortunately the dream today has turned into quest for material success resulting to individuals working excessively in order to achieve their dream. In this era, this dreams is evident by the capacity to buy homes and own cars which are material possession thus isolating the middle class from the poor to whom achieving the dream is impossible. Although traditional the dreams were achieved through hard work a lot has changed in the up rise of industrialization where people use elusive strategies to get richer faster. The death of sales has portrayed that American dream is not always successful it has also a negative side. The play has shown how common people usually suffer as compared to people in high status. For people to realize their dream they need to stop focusing on materializing as a way to measure success but also include social norms to help maximize potential.
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