The historical meaning of the American dream included the promise of freedom opportunity and equality for all. The original dream of success did not exclude wealth and personal attributes but, its main focus was on enterprise, bravery and hard work. However, this dream continues to be distorted to focus on the outer-self with personal attractiveness being the most important strength in determining success. In the play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller examines this through the characters and circumstances of the drama. Biff struggles in trying to come to terms with his father's warped definition of success.
In the beginning of the play, Biff shares his warped view of success and happiness with is father. Willy taught his sons to feel, that the only way to be successful and happy in life was to be attractive and "well liked." When the Loman brothers were younger, Biff was a "star player" on his high school football team.
He was not so good at his studies though. In order for Biff to be accepted into college, he had to pass math. Willy "blew [Biff] so full of hot air [that he] could never stand taking orders form anybody." Consequently, when both his math teacher and his good friend Bernard told him to study, Biff refused. Despite what his father had taught him, Biffs "personal attractiveness" and stubborn nature did not earn him a diploma or and entrance into college. Biff was unable to overcome his warped perspective in high school, and thus did not achieve true happiness - playing on the college football team.
After being at home for a while Happy, convinces Biff to start a business with him. Biff is persuaded to visit his former employer Bill Oliver to ask for financing to start up the Loman brothers'...