The American Dream
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller tells the success struggles of Willy Loman. Willy is married to Linda and they have two sons: Biff and Happy. Throughout the play, the Lomans next door neighbor, Charlie, is very concerned about Willy and constantly tries to help. Willy is a traveling salesman that hasnt provided a much for his family to thrive on. He is obsessed with this ideal of greatness and an American Dream that is completely unattainable due to his imagination. He wants to leave a legacy of being known as the best salesman in town. He also wants his sons to follow in his exact footsteps while obtaining much wealth. His downfall arises directly from his continued misconception of himself as someone of more success that he has. His pathological visions of being successful and his ungrateful acceptance of his own American Dream push him to cause arguments within his family, envision suicidal thoughts and ultimately take his own life. Willie envisions his son, Biff, as this successful salesman that was a great football player, but Biff returns from the west as a confused bum. Willy becomes irritated by Biffs visit because of how he pictured Biffs life and the reality that hes not a salesman. Charley and his son, Bernard, both become successful throughout the play and Willie troubles himself on what went wrong with his two boys. Why didnt his sons become successful? Why didnt Biff do what Bernard did to obtain wealth? The Loman family is entirely unsuccessful, riddled with financial problems, and lives off the delusion of everyone becoming successful salesman. These family flaws led Willy to commit suicide with the idea that his death would leave his life insurance money to his family. This is the exact reason why Willys perception of the American Dream is distorted. Did Willys death obtain the American Dream hes been so desperate in obtaining, or was he too blind to see that he already had a decent American Dream?
The message in this story is that the American Dream consists of more than money, materialistic things and financial goals. According to Dictionary.com, American Dream can be defined as the ideal of freedom, equality, and opportunity; or a life of personal happiness. Willy is at the end of his career but he has nothing to show for all those years and miles of traveling. The entirety of the play he envisioned his own idea of the American Dream which revolved around fame and fortune. Is this what the American Dream about? Based on the definition given Willy has the wrong interpretation of what he needs out of life. Willy doesnt need money to be successful nor does he need the fame of being the best salesman. Willy had the American Dream but was too blind to appreciate it. He had a loving family, caring neighbors and a job that he loved to do, no matter the pay. Is money and fame the only way to make someone happy? If everyone obtained the same in life then what would make our lives different from the next persons.
Willie is envious of Charleys American Dream. Charley is the owner of a successful business and his son is a promising lawyer. Willie wants his sons to follow in his footsteps but in all reality they suck as salesman. Willy tarnishes his American Dream by not accepting the fact that his sons arent good salesman and being happy for them in whatever profession they choose. The issue in this case is that Willy doesnt let his sons respond to their own American Dream the way they want to. The constant bombardment of the white collar job forces Biff to not be true to himself. Biff throws his American Dream on the back burner in order to try to fulfill his fathers illicit American Dream. The problems in this family all evolve from Willy and his misconception of what an American Dream really entails. The American Dream is one of a happy, wealthy to an extent, loving family. Willy has a loving wife and two loving sons. What more can you ask for?