What is the American dream? Whether it is a family working together towards one common goal, or a single woman working her way up the ladder, in a sense it is all the same dream. Regardless of the goal one works towards, it all comes down to success. Success includes getting ahead at work and school, and the goal of attaining wealth, power, and prestige. Without success why would anyone want to do anything? You would think that success is free to every American, but it is not. Success is afforded or denied to a person if they qualify. In Death of a Salesman, I believe Willy Loman was not successful in anything he did because he lived in his own world.
A big indicator to one's success is their performance on the job. If a person is doing well, generally, they are successful. In the beginning of the play Willy Loman comments on how he was "vital to New England".
This is a great example of how Willy's distortion compromised his obtainment of success. In all reality he was not "vital to New England", but a hindrance to his company. This is one reason why Willy Loman never obtained the American Dream.
I also think the American Dream is the tragic thing in the first act. Willy Loman wants to succeed in the American Dream and this is his problem. He doesn't see the problems he has in his job. Also he thinks he is a well-liked man, but the complete difference is the reality. Furthermore the marks of his son Biff in school aren't so good so he will fail the exam. The perfect family living the American Dream isn't alive.
But Willy Loman never sees the reality and this is the tragedy with the American Dream...