Death Of A Salesman

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, epitomizes the triviality of agonizing to achieve recognition according to the values of the capitalist system. The American dream is embedded deeply in the capitalist system. This dream of wealth and power drives individuals with an insatiable desire to pursue these goals however remote their chance of success. Only a selected few can reach the pinnacle of 'success.' The majority is left in awe and continues to strive towards their unreachable dream. Yet, perhaps these dreams are intrinsic to the human condition. It is not just capitalism that motivates people to pursue this far-fetched dream. Rather, the desire for power and wealth is an integral part of human nature. The hopelessness and emptiness of the American dream, if not of the human condition, are strikingly apparent in the Loman family that is brought to life in Miller's play.

The majority of people who do not attain the payoff of the American dream survive on the anticipation of eventually realizing the dream.

Willy Loman, the main character in Miller's novel, is a failed salesman struggling continuously against his reality. He insists and relies on his illusion that he will capture the prosperity promised in the American dream. However, Willy is at the bottom of the totem pole in a capitalist world. He owns nothing, and he makes nothing, so he has no sense of accomplishment. Without monetary accomplishment in a capitalist world, Willy develops a theory that possessing personal attractiveness can replace intelligence or wealth. He clings resolutely to these illusions of popularity, attractiveness, and wealth. As with much modernist literature, Willy replaces superior form with lack of substance. His wife, Linda, supports him in his illusions, telling him "you're the best looking man in the world." He believes that being popular and...