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The American Dream In Death Of A Salesman

2454 words - 10 pages

"The American Dream" is based on the 'Declaration of Independence´:
'We believe that all men are born with these inalienable rights -
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.´ (Thomas Jefferson, 1776).
This 'dream´ consists of a genuine and determined belief that in
America, all things are possible to all men, regardless of birth or
wealth; you work hard enough you will achieve anything. However,
Miller says people have been 'ultimately misguided´.
The origins of the American Dream seem to have been rooted in the
pioneering mentality of the 18th and 19th century immigrants, most of
whom came to America because of a promise of a new and better life. In
particular, the opportunity to own one´s land. But land 'ran out´ and
so cities developed and massive variations arose in wealth, which
meant that this 'American Dream´ changed from being a potential
reality, into being a dream, like the name implies.
Most of Miller´s plays are directly or indirectly about the American
Dream, because ultimately this dream wasn´t going to succeed as lots
of people wished. 'Death of a Salesman´ written in 1949, is a moving
destruction of the whole myth.
To be hard working, honest and have ambition were the ways of the
American Dream. This lead onto success, wealth and in due time -
power. But this dream for everyone developed, and encouraged greed,
selfish behaviour, pride and rivalry between one another.
Willy Loman was 'caught-up´ in this American Dream. It causes business
to develop in the world. Capitalism and also the profit motive and
competitive instinct, makes Willy have a weakness in his personality.
This weakness was caused by a combination of business pressures. Willy
wants to prove himself through successes a salesman, but as he fails,
his own life destroys him.
'I´m the New England man. I´m vital in New England.´
'Never leave a job until your sixty.´
Willy´s quotes above shows that he is insecure, and is not the
successful businessman he says he is.
Miller based Willy´s character on his own uncle, Manny Newman. Miller
said,
'That homely, ridiculous little man had after all never ceased to
struggle for a certain victory, the only kind open to him in this

society - selling to achieve his lost self as a man with his name and
his sons´ name on a business of his own.´
This explains exactly what he had in mind for Willy to be - as he was,
'trying to achieve his lost self´.
The things that are meant to happen in business are success, wealth
and esteem. This is what Ben has achieved and done. Miller stressed
his success and material reward in Ben. He does this by Ben repeating
himself a lot, ' I walked into the jungle, and when I came out I was
rich.´ But Ben also has emptiness in spite of his success. In the eyes
of the audience, he has no real...

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