Death of a Salesman
Seeking the American Dream of Success Arthur Millers " Death of A Salesman" could be described as a study in the American Dream ideology, a system that at times is indescribably brutal and at other times compassionates. Author Miller's plays are usually associated with real life issues filled with failure and disappointment. 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, obsessed with measuring success by popularity and material wealth and unfortunately emphasizing these principles upon his family. For Willy Loman, to be liked was the definitive criterion of life success. The American dream of wealth and luck became Willys dream, and it almost became reality. Willy realizes that in fact he has lived his life in vain, never achieving nor succeeding but remaining a shadow of his ambition. It is this sudden insight that urges him into a fantasy, afraid to face the future. It is only through Willys failure as a salesman that his innate desire for the outdoors is exposed. At the end of the play, Charley mentions, " He was a happy man with a batch of cement so wonderful with his hands he had the wrong dreams, all wrong.". It has been often said that the play emphasize the path not taken may have been the right one, still Willy holds the inability to see who and what he is. Miller has created Willys wife Linda in such a way, that it is difficult to confirm whether she is a positive or destructive force upon him. It is hard to understand why she allows this deception to rise to the level that it does. The love Linda holds for Willy is relentless. She sees herself as his protector, allowing him to laps into his illusions where he feels contentment. But in her love for her husband she is ironically his destroyer. Linda in her admiration for Willy also accepts his dream, which turns out fatal. She allows him to kill himself never letting on that she knows about the attempted suicides. The character most harmfully affected by Willys pursuit of the "Great American Dream" is his eldest son Biff. Similarly, they are both impractical, one by the consequences of disillusionment, the other by illusions themselves. Still looking for his purpose in life, Biff persists, due to Willy. While still in high school Biffs future was assured, and was tremendously well liked, but it all came down soon afterwards "just because he printed University of Virginia on his sneakers doesnt mean their going to graduate him!" Discovering his father shattered the vision he held of him. Biff, paralyzed by reality comes to the realization that in fact there is more to life than being well liked and football. Now after searching, Biff comes to terms with exactly who and what he is: " I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw the sky. I saw the things I love in this world and I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I dont want to beI am not a leader of men Pop Im a dime a dozen, and so are you." Happy, the youngest son of the Lomans unfortunately is not able to see himself for .....what he is. A direct opposite of his brother he never realizes his fathers fallacy of "be well liked and you shall never want". Less favored by his family, he is constantly seeking out approval. " Im getting married, Pop, dont forget it. Im changing everything. Im gonna run that department before the year is up. Youll see, Mom." This statement showing that Hap hasnt realized the fictitious part of his fathers dreams. He will carry on the routine" and live the life of salesman. " Im staying right in this city and Im gonna beat this racket he had a good dream. Its the only dream a man can have to come out number one man. He fought it out here, and this is where Im gonna win it for him." Arthur Miller portrayal of the Loman family places emphasis on the man struggling to achieve the perfection that is the American dream. It is not an attack upon the American system but an evidence of the systems possible effectiveness. The American dream and Willys dream were the end of Willy. Willy Lomans tragedy is due equally to his own flawed character and to societys flaws. For some, society has created mass wealth. For Willy Loman, however, society has created only tremendous grief and hardship, provoked by the endless promises. For these reasons, his tragedy is due to society flaws. Willy Loman had many flaws and deficiencies ranging form suicidal tendencies to psychotic disorders. However, these failing did not account for his tragic end, by themselves. The most obvious flaw in society is greed, the desire to get ahead. It is the philosophy of business that contains the dreams of man. Sometimes, this can drive man to great things, sometimes it can drive a man to ruin. The next largest flaw in society is a lack of compassion. This could be as a result of overwhelming greed. "I'm always in a race with the junkyard! I just finished paying for the car and it's on it last legs. The refrigerator consumes belts like a god dam maniac. They time those things." Willys belief in this statement drew him to believe that big business lacked compassion. It was the direct result of the flaws in society, which led Willy to his death. It was the greed that was ever pervasive around him that led to his unhappiness. It was the lack of compassion from society, which allowed his unhappiness to flourish, and which eventually consumed him. After working hard for his whole life, Willy wakes up to realize that he is a failure. On top of all of this, both of his sons despise him. His wife is very loving towards him but he does not take time to appreciate it. Because he is a failure, Willy starts to go crazy. It is a case of trying to chase the inevitable, "American Dream." During the whole play there are vivid flashbacks of Willy in his youth. He begins making a salary of $170 per week, he buys a nice home in the suburbs, and has two sons. Life was good at that time. But by the end, Willy dies without a job. Modern buildings have surrounded the neighborhood that was so nice when he first moved there. The sight of his house between all those newer and better houses shows how much Willy stayed dwelled in the past. Throughout the whole play Willy's dialogue is usually about what used to be, never reaching the American Dream, never making it a reality.
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Death of a Salesman