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Death Of The American Dream Essay

1087 words - 5 pages

The American dream is an ideal that most people are often left wanting. To be able to essentially rise from nothing and grow to be financially stable and live life in excess after a great deal of hard work. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the American dream is represented in different ways by the characters, though most of the plot centers around Willy’s failed aspirations for the American dream. Miller shows that the American Dream may not actually be reachable by everybody or that it may not even be a relevant dream for everybody in America.
Most of the story takes place in flashbacks that Willy experiences. Willy believed that he would’ve been able to achieve the American dream, ...view middle of the document...

Their son, Biff, has a largely different view on the American dream than the other characters in the play. He just wants to live a simple life, and not follow his father’s footsteps of being a salesman, something that Willy kept pushing his son to do after his failed academics. As stated in Thompson’s article “Miller’s DEATH OF A SALESMAN,” Biff believes himself to be stuck acting like a teenager, “Maybe that’s my trouble. I’m like a boy. I’m not married, I’m not in business, I just—I’m like a boy”. Biff later realizes that this is because of Willy, his father’s infidelity causing him to never be able to achieve what he was able to, the infidelity preventing him from wanting to fix his grade in the summer and continue on to college and possibly be a professional athlete, instead being stuck working odd jobs and constantly stealing from his employers. Biff’s attempts to realize his American dream are just attempts to get away from his father’s influence, running all across the country and constantly changing jobs (Thompson).
Willy’s other son, Happy, seems to be stuck in a similar situation as Biff, though to a much smaller extent. Happy was never liked as much as his older brother by Willy, driving Happy to be a bit more competitive and try to please his father more. Unlike Biff, Happy was fairly successful with his business aspirations, in his attempts to please his father. However, Happy ironically was not happy with this, as even this was not enough to bring him to be the favorite child of his father. Upon Willy’s death, Happy is probably doomed to never truly reach his American dream, as he will never have the full appreciation of his father. Bernard seems to be the only one out of the characters presented in the play to possibly come close to achieving the American dream. Though unpopular during high school, he grew up to actually become a lawyer and during the time of the play, have a case that is in the Supreme Court. His achievement was earned...

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