Willy’s American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
The American dream is the belief that with hard work, a person will become successful. The American Dream is something every American family makes great efforts to achieve. Some families push themselves too hard to get where they feel they’ve achieved the American Dream; this is the case with the Loman family. Willy Loman plays a man in his sixties who has gone all out for his American dream for the past 30 years of his life but in reality has failed poorly on his goal. His goal? To be a rich salesman like his icon Dave Singleman.
Willy goes through extreme measures causing himself to go into a deep state of depression. The Dream that Willy wants to achieve is a dream that only consist of flaw upon a flaw. To start off, Willy dreamed of all the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Not to mention, Willy gives himself way too much recognition in the play. Also, Willy believed that the only important things in his life were his achievements, and the number of friends he made. In Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, the character Biff says ‘He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong, he never knew who he was’. Willy is a confused man that deals with pain. Instead of wanting things like money and a certain amount of friends, he should want things like love and companionship instead. Unfortunately, Willy created a meaningless life. His wife Linda was rather a part of the problem instead of a part of the solution. Her constant love and loyalty only made a bigger fire instead of solving it. Linda will always support Willy and be his number one fan, but she had no control in herself when it came to encouraging Willy’s lies. Another problem with Willy’s dream is that he gives himself a lot more credit than he deserves. He would continuously say in the play that he is well known in all of New England as a great salesman. This can be seen when Willy says, “I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England.” However, in reality he is an ordinary, aging deadbeat. Willy portrays to put on a mask for the most damaging person he knows who is himself. Willy constantly lying to himself is what kills his soul. His constant determination of a goal that a man of his outlook could never accomplish is very dangerous to his sanity. This can be seen when Biff says, ‘Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you!’ Willy replies, ‘I am not a dime a dozen!
Willy Loman’s dream is actually opposite from the American Dream. Willy believed that his accomplishments and the amount of friends he made were more important than anything else. This can be seen when Willy says ‘It’s who you know and the smile on your face! And that’s the wonder, the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked!”. In Willy’s mind, success is the most important thing in the American dream. However, this caused Willy to put too much attention towards the need to gain a load success. He ends up not paying attention to his family or their needs. Instead of his family, Willy chooses to continue his own mindset that as long as he is well liked he will gain success. Even though he doesn’t have the skills he used to have when it comes to selling, Willy continues to believe that if he works hard enough, good things will magically appear to him and his family. Linda eventually sees this. It can be seen in the play when she takes her thoughts to Biff and Happy and says ‘He drives seven hundred miles, and when he gets there no one knows him anymore. What goes through a man’s mind, driving seven hundred miles home without earning a cent?’.
Overall, Willy has unrealistic ideas about the American dream which causes him to fail poorly. Willy was unable to achieve the American dream because he dreamed of all the wrong things for the wrong reasons, he gave himself way too much recognition than he deserved, and he believed that the important things in life were his achievements and the number of friends he made. The lesson learned is to not dream of all the wrong things for the wrong reasons, do not give yourself recognition especially if it’s false, and last but not least, don’t believe the important things are your achievements and the number of friends you have. Rather work hard towards your dreams and earn all the right and realistic things in life.
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