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The American Dream In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun And Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

2733 words - 11 pages


Centuries ago, Americans were fighting for their freedom from Britain. Then, the American dream was to have freedom. To American then, being free and having their own individual country was enough. Up until a few decades ago, African Americans were fighting to have equal rights. They thought this was all they needed and they would be truly happy. Somewhere over the course of time; happiness had a new meaning for all Americans. Now material possessions are what it takes to be happy. The American dream is to be rich.

A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry, and Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, both address the American Dream. Both plays discuss the desire for wealth and how the desire may lead to one’s downfall. However, each play is very different in addressing issues such as race and feminism. A Raisin in the Sun and Death of a Salesman have the same major theme of the American Dream, but address other issues differently along the way. A Raisin in the Sun is about an African American family in Chicago. Living in the same old broken down house is Lena Younger, who is the mother to both Beneatha and Walter, who also live in the house. Walter is married to Ruth and is the father of Travis. As the play begins, the family is about to inherit an insurance check for 10,000 dollars. This money comes from the death of Lena’s husband. Each member of the family wants to do something different with that money. Lena wants to buy a bigger house in a nicer area, and Ruth agrees with her. Beneatha wants the money to go to tuition for medical school. Walter wants to invest the money in a liquor store, so he can own the store, and become successful and rich. He is tired of just being a cab driver. However, Lena intends to give some of the money to Beneatha for her medical school but none to Walter.

Throughout the play, Walter gets more and more disturbed by the fact that he is not going to fulfill his dream. Halfway through the play, Walter tries to explain that he wants more out of his life, and Lena says that he has all he needs- a wife, a family, and a job. Walter then gets even angrier and says “Mama, a job? I open and close doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say ‘Yes sir’; ‘No sir”; ‘Very good sir’; ‘Shall I take the drive sir?’ Mama that aint no kind of job” (Miller, pg 107). Walter’s dream to be rich drives him to the brink of insanity. Finally, Lena decides that she will give him the money to invest in a liquor store. She keeps part of the money to invest in a house, and gives him the rest of it. She tells him to put three thousand dollars in an account for Bonita’s tuition, and the rest is his to invest in the liquor store. Instead of putting any money in an account for Beneatha, Walter gives it all to one of his partners to invest in the store. He is told he will get enough of it back in a few days, so he can put the money in the account. As it turns out, his partner ends up leaving town...

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