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In What Ways Does Arthur Miller Present The Failure Of The American Dream?

1473 words - 6 pages

Arthur Miller's main character is a failure: Willy Loman is eventually worth more dead than alive, and 'nobody's worth nothing dead'. All his life, he strives for the American dream - a good career, a loving wife, a house with a white picket fence. All his life he fails, either not achieving or only achieving in part, a shadowed mockery of his aspirations. He has all the trappings of success, but they are meaningless. Miller gives Willy the possessions held desirable by his intended audience, but the fridge doesn't work, the car is often broken, and the stockings, such a sign of status, go to his mistress, whilst his wife has to mend hers. Willy only finally ends his house after his death.Miller wrote Death of a salesman as a satire on the American dream, trying to show how hard it was for the ordinary worker to achieve it. Written in 1940, at a time of massive unemployment, it struck a chord in the hearts of workers everywhere, workers who were striving for a paradise that only a few would obtain.However, Miller's view of the American dream is not all bleak. Yes, his protagonists fail to achieve their aims, but this is not due to the American Dream itself. Rather, the dream is all that sustains them in their seemingly pointless lives - the hope that someday, everything will be alright.Throughout the play, Willy is offered opportunities to grasp his dream - Ben first offers to take him to Alaska (where his fortune would have been found) then offers him timberland (where he would have been comfortable) Willy holds to most of the values of the American dream throughout his life -independence and optimism. Despite his poverty, he will not accept a job under someone he sees as inferior, 'I - I just can't work for you, Charley', and even when forced to borrow money, he intends to pay it back, protesting with the angry pride of the disadvantaged 'I'm keeping an account of everything, remember'Throughout his life, he dreams of better times, in his earlier days, he dreams of the future, and once his glory days are over, he dreams of his past ' remember that Ebbet's field game? Willy has failed to reach his dream, but he keeps up the pretence that he has, or will. Only alone, or in moments of great emotion, does he forget to keep up his mask 'Charley, you're the only friend I got' - his mask of a perfect home, plentiful friends, and prospects.Miller here shows the attitude that failing to obtain the American dream brings. Unless you are extraordinary 'I am not a dime a dozen!' you never reach your dream, but in doing so, your attitude changes. Money and popularity become your aims, and even if you fail, you have to keep reaching for them, pretending that you are loved and feted, that you make a difference 'I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey -I am known!'If you fail to reach the dream, you have to pretend you have. That's why Willy borrows money and pretends it's a salary, that's why Willy won't take a job 'I've got a job' - because if you...

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