Comparing Death of a Salesman and The American Dream
In Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman and Edward Albee’s The American Dream, Willy Lowman and Mommy possess the trait of superficiality. Their priorities are to look good and be liked, and this contributes to their misguided paths to reach success. This attribute is one of many societal criticisms pointed out by both authors. Arthur Miller criticizes society for perceiving success as being liked and having good looks. He illustrates society’s perception through Willy, who thinks the keys to success are being popular and attractive. Willy transmits this philosophy to his sons by ignoring their education and personal growth and setting an example that popularity is most important. Edward Albee criticizes society for the same thing. He points out the wrong priorities in life such as emphasizing good looks and the wish to be liked at the expense of deeper ethics and morals. Through Mommy’s incident with the hat, which showed she wanted to be liked, and her problems with her own son’s physical and mental faults, which showed she cared too much for good looks, Albee shows how society is misguided in its methods to achieve success.
Miller’s Willy shows many times that his idea of success goes no deeper than the superficial by teaching his sons the wrong path to a successful life. When Biff was in high school, Willy had already started to teach his son the false values in which he believed. When Willy found out Biff had stolen a football and was caught by his coach, who did not get angry, Willy responded by using the incident as an example of the importance of his philosophy.
"That’s because he likes you. If somebody else took that ball there’d be
an uproar." (pg.30)
Instead of teaching Biff the lesson of not stealing, saying next time the consequences will be worse, Willy almost encourages the immature mistake. Willy continues to teach his sons his misguided values by telling them education is almost useless and a good body is a fine substitute.
"Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand , but when he
gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five
times ahead of him. That’s why I thank the Almighty God you’re both
built like Adonises. Because the man that makes the appearance in the
business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who
gets ahead. Be liked and you’ll never want." (pg. 33)
Willy is now misleading his sons into thinking good looks will keep them alive in the corporate world and education won’t, yet Willy is a man with respectable looks and he isn’t surviving in the same world. Fifteen years later, Willy continues to preach the same theory, even after he has seen both his sons fail in the world, having been guided by his words. Prior to Biff’s proposal to Bill Oliver for ten thousand dollars , Willy is still stuffing his sons’ heads with the same misleading advise.
"It’s not what...