Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and The American Dream The play Death of a Salesman was written by Arthur Miller in 1949. The aim of this essay is to compare this play concept of the American Dream. But what is the American Dream? Well, if you are an American and if you have a family, a house and a car, a decent job with a good salary and if you consider yourself to be surrounded by people who respect you for who you are, you can be said to have reached the American Dream. The concept of the American Dream became a popular idea during the nineteenth century when millions of people immigrated to America in search of better lives. At that time, a better life could mean a cottage or perhaps a house, some cattle and a piece of land to cultivate. Even today the meaning of the American Dream is quite the same; be sure to have valuable possessions, a social life with high standard and keep up good standards.
Millers most famous work deals with the painful conflicts within one family but also relates to American national values. It examines the blind faith of the American dream, a post war tragedy. Miller in Death of a Salesman accuses America of selling a falsehood to the public in the post war economy built around a capitalist materialistic doctrine superseding the original American dream of the countrys founders. America, post World War two, faced profound tensions domestically in what became known as The Cold War. The propagation of the myths of a peaceful homogenous America was countermanded by a constant anxiety of the Red Menace of communism and bitter racial conflicts. Most post-war Americans could not join in the affluent dream that the American economy was now making a reality for the conservative rich. However the pursuit of this materialistic dream meant a radical change in the mindset of the American public as they became embroiled in a race for conformity within the material world of keeping up with the trappings of neighbors and peer groups.
The Term Paper on The American Dream 11
Some people might agree that the American dream still exists, while others don’t or they have different beliefs. The American dream is one of the most controversial themes in the United States. I totally agree that the American Dream is still on, though we need to work a little more to make it happen. I recently read a quote by Senator John Kerry that relates two articles that I have read in the ...
The accessories of affluence in the form of material possessions such as appliances, cars and television drove the American economy. At the same time the post war generation of writers and artists, influenced by the existentialists philosophy, took up arms against the hard sell philosophy of American industry and manufacturing. (Griffin) Act one begins with flute music playing as Willy Loman enters, the music of the flute is symbolic for Willy, his father was a flute maker and the young Willy, along with his elder brother Ben, helped in the door to door selling of his fathers work. It also represents a painful side of Willys past when his father abandoned him. (Act one, p. 8.) Abandonment is an important and recurring theme in Millers play, it is symbolic for Willy Loman and at the same time it symbolizes Americas abandonment of the first American dream held by the immigrants and pioneers looking for a new life in the land of opportunity.
The abandonment that Willy experiences reoccurs throughout the play, as one by one the important people in Willys life leave him. At the time in which the play was written America was taking advantage of its new empire won or stolen in the Second World War. A new American Dream was being sold to American society. (Martin) The first dream of opportunity was more attainable when pioneers could get land and build their dream through their own efforts and self-reliance. As the land ran out and the cities developed the new dream of consumerism took over. However this new dream was just that, a Dream as the word implies.
This dream was to be dreamt rather than achieved. Miller shows the end of the first dream in the play as Willy and Lindas small home in Brooklyn is slowly swallowed up by the large tenements and office buildings which now surround them even blocking out the sun. Willy has sold himself on the American Dream wholeheartedly; but it is a warped vision, it is part of his defense strategy to cope with his experience of abandonment by those closest to him. Both his father and elder brother have left him, whom Willy blames; on himself but at the same time is in denial of. Miller uses Willy throughout the play to portray the gullibility of American society in accepting what he believes to be a false promise of freedom and happiness through material acquisition. Willys formula for success is based on a misconception that all one needs to attain the American Dream is to be personal and be well liked.
The Essay on October She Dreamt Jennifer Father Man
Jennifer stopped running through the forest after doing so for what seemed like eternity. She had no idea where she was, why she was here, or who was chasing her. All she knew was that running for so long of a time made her very hungry. Desperately, she looked around for something to eat, and her eyes settled on a tall apple tree. Jennifer picked a couple and ate them as she leaned against a maple ...
This is a stock phrase used by Willy throughout the play. Miller is pointing out that the pursuit of happiness through the acquisition of appliances, cars and television is a dead end road, a simile of the dead end road that Willy is on. Miller accuses American capitalism of duping American society into believing that a man made Heaven on earth is within everyones grasp. (Martin) As the play opens, Willy is exhausted as he returns from an unsuccessful trip complaining that he almost crashed the car and didnt make it past Yonkers in upstate New York. Linda his wife tries to persuade Willy to talk to his boss Howard Wagner about giving him a job in New York so he wont have to travel. Willy dismisses his wifes concern and instead complains about his son Biff who has returned home on a visit along with his second son Happy, and as of yet has not made something of himself. Biffs return is a catalyst that opens up old wounds for his father, as we shall see later in the plot.
(Act one P.10).
In order for Willy to keep his fantasy of the American dream he has to deal with the contradictions he experiences in his job and within his family. Willy is on the road selling whilst Linda stays at home looking after the boys. This makes Willys family life occasional or part time. Linda, who supports Willys fantasized view of the American Dream, represents the lot of the American housewife of the period. Much of the selling of the dream was through television and aimed at the American Housewife. Miller again is attacking American society for its inability to see the cost of the American Dream on the family. Willy Loman is salesman, occasional father and husband.
The Essay on Government Influence On Family Life
Do government programs influence family life? Some of these programs are Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. These programs have changed family life not only in a positive way, but also in a negative way. These programs are targeted at giving older citizen some form of money or medical care, while other programs are geared at taking money from the working class. Yes, government programs do ...
His son Biff is rebelling against the indoctrination of his fathers dream, which he sees as an illusion, and waste of a life. Biff has traveled but not as a salesman and has seen something of America as he wandered from job to job. Biff has seen through the self-delusion of his father and is beginning to find an identity for himself. Biff represents the old dream of the pioneers but also a new aspect of American society where quality of life is more important than what one can collect in life. Miller shows that Willy becomes aware he is deluding himself from time to time but in order to protect his fragile dream is forced to adjust the real world to fit his fantasy. When Willy is confronted by his failing health and ability, he sells himself short in order to fit in with his bosss lack of faith in him.
This is a slight on American business and the pursuit of profit at the cost of the weak. At the time the play was staged, there was an upsurge of disaffected young people in America. Miller received thousands of letters after his play was staged from Americans who saw a resemblance in their own lives to that portrayed by Willy Loman and his family. The American dream was disintegrating. Miller does not include Black Americans or the Native Americans in the play but in doing so points to the hypocrisy of the dream, which excludes them. Miller purposely crowds in on Willy leaving him no way out of his dilemma, just like America runs out of wilderness where the original dream was possible Willy runs out of proverbial road and is left with a dead end with only one way to go.
(Weales) In conclusion, Millers Death of a Salesman, is an analogy of the American Dream. Miller uses the Loman family as a symbolic representation of the American way of life. The dream of solid family structures and opportunity for all is starkly portrayed in the dysfunctional Loma family. Willys choice of career is flawed due to his past insecurities caused by being abandoned by his father. To compensate for his insecurity Willy Loman creates a world of fantasy where everything is always well and he is the hero of his life. When Willy becomes ill with the onset of dementia his world and that of his family begins to disintegrate, as he can no longer hold his fantasy together.
The Homework on The Relationship Of The American Tv Family Versus The Real Life
The Comparison of the TV family to the everyday real life family can take many avenues to explore, but I'll try to keep it as basic as possible. First I'll break down the animated TV family "The Simpsons", and then I'll break down a real life middle class family that I know all to well. I. The Simpsons; Father, Mother and three children. The various daily problems they encounter in their middle ...
People and circumstances gather and undermine his self-deluding strategies for survival. The poignancy of the play reveals itself in Willys futile suicide. His epitaph from Linda at the graveside when she says Willy I cant cry. It seems to me that youre just on another trip. Starkly portrays their occasional life together. Willy will not be missed.
Willy dies as Biff suggested ten a penny. The tragedy in Millers play is a warning to American society to beware of false prophets who come baring gifts. On the other hand, Willy Loman, in his naive world between determined hope and painful awareness, represents a parody of the American Dream. But at the same time, he represents a memorable saying by George Bernard Shaw: You see things as they are and ask, Why? I dream things as they never were and ask why not? Bibliography Griffin, Alice. Understanding Arthur Miller. Columbia: U of South Carolina Press, 1996. Martin, Robert A.
Arthur Miller: New Perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1982. Miller, Arthur. The Death of a Salesman. New York: Random House, 1977. Weales, Gerald C. Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman; Text and Criticism.
NY, Viking P, 1977..