American Dream is not just a mouthful, but it has a socio-historic-economic significance in the modern day United States of America. Edward Albee, the dramatist of repute, had written a play The American Dream, based on the craze in the go-getters’ world. In fact, the people of America , especially in the sixties, dreamt of scaling the social ladder to reach a higher status and to be rich through eminence. For this, they left no stone unturned and end was not always justified by the means. We find its reflection in the plays by Arthur Milller too.
Especially in his widely acclaimed play The Death of a Salesman. Here the main character , Willy Loman, kept on telling lies in order to achieve a dream-status in society. But mendacity ultimately drove him to commit suicide. Thus, American Dream ,which he wished to achieve , remained far beyond his reach ,rather driving him to total destruction.
Even, in Act One, Willy is egged on by his wife Linda to stick on to the cushy job in New York! And, Willy Loman is afraid, “Biff Loman is lost In the greatest country in the world a young man with such –personal attractiveness ,gets lost….”[p-11]Willy Loman is again aware of the neck-to-neck competition in today’s world of burgeoning population and waning opportunities, “There’s more people! That’s what’s ruining this country! Population is getting out of control! The competition is maddening!... ”Willy Loman had a dream of being rich someday. He hates cars with windshields as they “do not open on the new cars”. Willy keeps on dreaming of a Red Chevvy, “I coulda sworn I was driving that Chevvy today. ”[Act One] Ben is none other than the other self of Willy Loman himself. Whether real or imagined, Willy feels free to think aloud his own arguments with Ben.
Even, he can go to that extent of opening his mind to Ben and can discuss his intended suicide only with him!! When Biff and Happy looked on their father as an ideal father and when Biff was a promising football champion, Willy Loman took everything easy and for granted!! He sticks on to his capitalist dream and as intrigued by Ben, “ There’s a new continent at your doorstep, William. You could walk out rich. Rich! ” he does not even hesitate to holler after Ben, “We’ll do it here, Ben! You hear me? We’re gonna do it here! ”, sitting ,without a job, in Howard’s office.
Is it not chasing an unattainable dream? Was not Willy responsible for the debacle in Biff’s championship game at Ebbets ? Willy Loman’s trotting off lies at Boston regarding his relationship with a stranger lady came as a shocking jolt to Biff. Was it the same Willy Loman who said, “Tell you a secret, boys. Don’t breathe it to a soul. Someday I’ll have my own business, and I’ll never have to leave home anymore. ”[Act One] Such a man wavers between a dream and frustration when he gets picked up by a woman, and, he gives in to her amorous advances while Biff takes a sudden note of it!
Willy pretends that he does not know the lady. But Biff finds out to his utter dismay that his father has given the lady “her mama’s stockings. ” He feels fallen in the eyes of his sons who held him in high esteem. Is it not again a loss of one’s dream?!! Willy Loman dies cherishing a dream that dies within him—a dream ‘ that has nurtured a vision of self that bears little resemblance to reality and ‘he leaves that dream as legacy to his sons who have no more at success than Willy has had. ’ Willy’s world is crumbling down,- the refrigerator, the car, the plumbing, the leaky roof—and Willy himself too.
Willy rues the fact of getting surrounded by ‘bricks and windows, windows and bricks. ’ Willy gets tired, grudges that he ‘gotta break your neck to see a star in this yard. ’ And , sun penetrates so little into Willy’s luck that nothing will grow. Even his dream embraces the world of Nature, as he tells Linda that some day they will own acres of land where he will reap vegetables and raise chickens. Willy commits suicide . But before that he tries to plant seeds in the shadowy, dark garden where nothing can grow.
This is the legacy he would love to leave for his sons but he settles for the twenty thousand dollars insurance money, which only takes him off the track and he seals the dream he should never would have. His son Biff ,who goes to Bill Oliver, a former employer for a loan for setting up a sports goods-store ends up stealing Oliver’s pen out of sheer frustration. He blabs out, “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 don’t want to be?
What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous , begging fool of myself ,when all I want is out there ,waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! ”[Act Two]Before committing suicide, Willy was moved by seeing Biff crying bitterly and accusing vociferously, ‘Will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens? ’ When Willy is no more, Biff cried out, ‘He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong. ” Charley came to refute all his accusations ,saying, ‘Nobody dast blame this man. You don’t understand; for a salesman ,there is no rock bottom to the life.
Willy was a salesman…. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory. ” Lastly, Willy loses the dream but Happy takes an optimistic pledge, “ .. I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream……. to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him. ”[Requiem] Thus, an American Dream takes a person to the edge of inebriated search for success and will add a meaning to his life even though the man fails in his pursuit. Willy Loman, after all, fought to the last , in order to make his dream come true!!