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Idea Of Illusion Vs. Reality In Death Of A Salesman And Of Mice And Men

1057 words - 5 pages

Compare and contrast the ways in which Miller and Steinbeck present the idea of Illusion vs. Reality in Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men

In Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men, Miller and Steinbeck present the idea of Illusion vs. Reality by characterising the main characters – Willy, George and Lennie – as so desperate to fulfil the American Dream, that they become trapped in a vicious cycle and fooled by the illusion of progress. Willy’s obsession with what could have been grows until it begins to poison his family, dragging them into the web of lies he has created, whereas in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck focuses on how George becomes trapped and destined to blindly follow the other workers in their cycle of monotony due to Lennie’s death and the resulting loss of their dream. **Also linking into the American Dream, both writers focus on the hierarchical system which comes about as a result of those higher up trying to bring down those below them.**
In their texts, Steinbeck and Miller address the way in which dreams are able to consume the main characters, causing them to strive for an unreachable goal and to tragically fail in achieving their dreams as a result. For example, in Death of a Salesman, Miller portrays clearly that Willy's life is nothing more than an illusion that he has built around his dreams, which can be seen in his frequent lies to Linda about his earnings of ‘over five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston’, perpetuating the illusion of his dreams. Thus causing him to veer away from what he really wants in life, to work outdoors and be a family man. Miller does this to highlight the warping effect on reality dreams are able to have on people and the effect this has on society as a whole as is embodied by the American Dream. The biggest example of Willy’s insistence to rise up the sales ladder and prove himself to his boys is his choice of career path. Willy loves to work with his hands and generally be outdoors, frequently bragging to Charley about his renovations of the house such as ‘the ceiling I put up in the living room’ or complaining that ‘[You] gotta break your neck to see a star in this yard’, clearly showing that he yearns to be outside with nature, but his belief in the American Dream has shrouded his true dream which shows how dangerous dreams can become if they are allowed to grow out of control and create a blurred line between illusion and reality. Miller suggests that Willy’s real dream of working with his hands, which Biff is fulfilling, is shrouded by his fixation on the American Dream. Willy's blindness is highlighted by Miller as he has come to believe that he would be happier to be a failing salesman than a satisfied handyman, however Willy denied himself of his dreams in order to pursue a lifestyle akin to the one led by Dave Singleman and be so ‘well-liked’ that ‘hundreds of salesmen and buyers [would be] at...

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