Destruction of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman
A white picket fence surrounds the tangible icons of the American Dreams in the middle 1900's: a mortgage, an automobile, a kitchen appliance paid for on the monthly - installment - plan, and a silver trophy representative of high school football triumph. A pathetic tale examining the consequences of man's harmartias, Arthur Miller's "Death of A Salesman" satisfies many, but not all, of the essential elements of a tragedy. Reality peels away the thin layers of Willy Loman's American Dream; a dream built on a lifetime of poor choices and false values.
Although the characters are not of noble birth nor possess a heroic nature nor experience a reversal of fortune, many of the elements in "Death of A Salesman" fulfill the criteria of a classic tragedy. The downfall and crisis points in the play are directly linked to the Loman family's combined harmartias, or personal flaws. The Loman's have unrealistic ideas regarding the meaning of success. To Willy, the foundation of success is not education or hard work, but rather "who you know and the smile on your face." Moreover, Willy ridicules the education Bernard has earned, declaring that his sons, Biff and Hap, will get further ahead in the business world because "the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked, and you will never want." Willy idolizes two men: his brother, Ben, who walked out of an African jungle a rich man, and an 84-year-old salesman who could "pick a phone in twenty or thirty cities and be remembered and loved, and finally honored by hundred of mourners at his funeral." To Linda, success is paying off a 25-year house mortgage, no matter the cost to Willy's peace of mind. She encourages Willy to ask for undeserved raises, and ignores the truth: Willy borrows money to make ends meet. For Biff, the idea of success is an easy loan from an ex-employer he has stolen from; for Hap, success is obtaining a promotion by waiting for "the merchandise manager to die." Inevitably, the Loman's unrealistic idea about success is one of the steps in their downfall.
Equally as damaging, the Loman family lacks the ability to make the necessary and suitable choices to pursue the American Dream. Although Willy is skillful with his hands and believes "a man who can't handle tools is...