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Death of a Salesman Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1244 words Published: 4th Sep 2017

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The End OF American Dream

“Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller, tells the story of Willy Loman, a salesman who reflects on the frustrations and failures of his life, which are due to his beliefs in the American dream and the experience. The general idea behind the American Dream is that people are capable of succeeding. Success requires one to work hard and to be dedicated to both their professional and family lives. People often misconstrue the concept behind the dream in thinking that wealth defines success. Failing to acknowledge the importance of hard work in achieving the American Dream is another aspect of this misconception. Willy’s quest for the American Dream eventually ends in failure, as he is one who has continuously been chasing the illusion, as opposed to the reality of it. His perfectionist attitude toward his dream, his obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence to the past that contribute to his defeat in the end.

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By ignoring the present, Willy fails to deal with reality. He has a tendency of living in the past and thinking of the future. He always thinks that if he had done something differently than this could have happened, or things will get better as time passes. His habit of distorting the past, never allows Willy to realize what is going on right then and there in the present. At one time, when Willy goes off down memory lane, he “says” to Biff and Happy, “America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys the finest people there’ll be open sesame for all of us, cause one thing boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street and the cops protect it like their own”. Willy makes this distortion of the past in order to make he believe that he has achieved the American Dream. At times when doing this was not possible, Willy looks to the future and thinks he can still achieve it then. For instance, he has this dream of having a big, spectacular funeral. In the end when Willy dies, at his funeral, Linda says, “Why didn’t anybody come Where are all the people he knew?” . All his life, he holds on to this fantasy, but he never faces the reality of how he could have made it come true. It is his vision of the people of the past that lead Willy to follow a particular path, leading to his demise in the end.

By disregarding the present, Willy fails to manage reality. He has an inclination of living in the past and thinking of the future. He generally believes that in the event that he had accomplished something uniquely in contrast to this could have happened, or things will show signs of improvement over the long haul. His propensity for twisting the past, never permits Willy to acknowledge what is going on at that moment in the present. At one time, when Willy goes off through a world of fond memories, he “says” to Biff and Happy, “America is loaded with wonderful towns and fine, upstanding individuals. What’s more, they know me, young men the finest individuals there’ll be open sesame for every one of us, cause one thing young men: I have companions. I can stop my auto in any road and the cops ensure it like their own”. Willy makes this bending of the past keeping in mind the end goal to make he trust that he has accomplished the American Dream. Now and again while doing this was impractical, Willy looks to the future and supposes he can even now accomplish it then. For example, he has this fantasy of having a major, fantastic burial service. At last when Willy bites the dust, at his memorial service, Linda says, “Why didn’t anyone come Where are every one of the general population he knew?” . All his life, he clutches this dream, however he never confronts the truth of how he could have made it work out. It is his vision of the general population of the past that lead Willy to take after a specific way, prompting to his destruction at last.

The success attained by Willy’s role models, Dave Singleman, and Ben, is what he envisions to be the American Dream. He only visualizes the end product, being successful, and not the process they may have gone through to achieve that success. Willy’s father sold flutes and made that his living. In an encounter with his thoughts of the past, Willy listens to Ben, his brother, who refers to Dave Singleman by saying, “Great Inventor, Father. With one gadget he made more in a week than a man like you could make in a lifetime”. Willy assumes that by being a salesman, like Dave Singleman is that he will automatically be guaranteed success, and that it was not something that he would have to work for. Material success, such as money, luxury, and wealth, and popularity are his goals and his definition of success. On the other hand, self-fulfilment and happiness through hard work is not. By only focusing on the outer appearance of the American Dream, Willy ignores the reality of the hard work and dedication required to obtain it. His constant preoccupation with being successful, being well-liked, and attaining that Dream with the “perfect” job, the “perfect” family, and the “perfect” life, never leaves his mind.

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The unattainable part of Willy’s notion of the American Dream is perfection. This illusion shadows Willy as it takes him through his life. He has this set picture in his mind of how everything should be: a good job, a high paying salary, a wonderful family with smart kids and a perfect housewife, being well-liked, being happy, and having no problems at all. Because Willy has this perception of how life should be, any entity that does not fit his viewpoint turns out as this huge ordeal. This obsession of perfection is a reason for why, in reality, he did not have a happy family. By trying to make his family fit the image of the American Dream, he actually caused their unhappiness. Failing at this attempt of “perfecting” his family is just one example of Willy’s many mistakes. Due to the fact that he is a so-called perfectionist, accomplishment is never evident to Willy. Once he reaches any “goal”, he never sees the good in it; instead he only sees what he could have done better. Perfection is just a figment of the imagination, an elusive illusion, just as the American Dream is in Willy’s mind.

Willy Loman portrays a “common man”, who lives a life that is purely an illusion. Although Willy has good intentions, his tragic flaw is that he focuses only on the appearance of the American Dream and never on the reality, the work ethic, or how to achieve it. Willy brings about his own downfall, his defeat, because he tries to pursue this “superficial” idea. Miller includes this theme of the American Dream in his social criticism in an attempt to portray the deviation in the values of society. For instance, materialism and technological advances, causes the American Dream to change as times changes. The salesman is a position that has declining importance at the time. He shows that an individual’s values are based on what society has established. Yet, as society changes, the values one has may not, causing conflict between the society and the individual…


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