Death of a Salesman - The Pursuit of the American Dream

Essay by ssobonyaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, December 2003

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The Pursuit of the 'American Dream'

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a tragic play about Willy Loman's pursuit of the 'American Dream.' This dream is the dream of wealth and success. The author's main character, Willy Loman, is a traveling salesman that spends his whole lifetime trying to find success based on looks and popularity. Willy Loman is a product of this ever-increasing society. This society is obsessed with measuring success by popularity and material wealth. Having this obsession, Willy unfortunately emphasizes these principles upon his family. Because of this pursuit, Willy's values, truths and mind-set are skewed. He does not see and live in reality. He is trying as hard as possible to convince himself and family that they have acquired the success that he has longed for. Unfortunately, this betrayal is messing with his mind and the minds of his family members. Willy is in a constant battle within himself to either accept who he is or live in his own fabricated world.

The 'American Dream,' in Willy's eyes, is the accomplishments and attainments of a successful career. Being the dreamer he is, Willy attempts to make his mark as a salesman because "selling [is] the greatest career a man [can] want" (Act 2). Unfortunately, for Willy, he falls short of his goals at being a success in his career as a salesman. Willy blames the superficiality of the business world. This is seen in his thoughts about Bernard:

"Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y'understand, you're going to be five times ahead of him. That's why I thank Almighty God you're both built like agonizes. Because a man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal...