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Compare how Plath and Miller explore the concept of the American Dream in The Bell Jar and Death of a Salesman

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Introduction

Compare how Plath and Miller explore the concept of the American Dream in The Bell Jar and Death of a Salesman The idea of dreams is integral to the main protagonists throughout 'The Bell Jar' and 'Death of a Salesman'. These ideas stem from the concept known as the American Dream, which is the belief that with enough work anyone can be what they want to be. The American Dream can often be related to the term 'Manifest Destiny', which is the belief in America's 'mission' in the world and can often be related to expanding their control over land. There are different types of American Dreams in the texts. These include Material, academic, 19th Century (outdoors), 20th Century (business) and Happiness, which the authors use to give us an inside look into the characters. The concept of the American Dream is presented in Plath's 'The Bell Jar' in a similar way to Miller's 'Death of a Salesman', when Plath states, "look at what can happen in this country" suggesting that the American Dream is a predominant thought in the American minds. In contrast to Miller's main character, Willy, that foolishly follows the American Dream, the main character of 'The Bell Jar', Esther, does not believe this to be true and fights against the current of mainstream ideas and belief that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. ...read more.

Middle

However, Plath portrays Esther as a bright young women, who has the opportunity of living the 'American Dream' but she can see through the illusion of what society thinks she should be. When she has her photo taken, she has to hold a "fake" rose and the rose doesn't represent her as a person or what she aspires to be, which is the point that Plath explores with regards to the American Dream in 'The Bell Jar'. Plath and Miller use very different techniques to represent the American Dream. This is due to the texts being of different styles; one is a novel and the other a play. That said they do share some similarities, such as non-linear narratives to give us an insight into the key themes. The techniques used give different insights into the individual thoughts of the American Dream. One technique used by Plath is the 'interior monologue', which gives us the intimate thoughts of Esther and what she thinks of the world around her. Plath uses this technique to show her thoughts about the American Dream, as though they are her own thoughts represented in Esther. This gives us a very powerful opinion on the American Dream, as it is an opinion that is close to what we may also think from reading the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that each text explores the concept of the American Dream in very independent ways that express the opinions of the authors. Miller presents to us ideas such as to achieve the dream you have to be disillusioned which we see in the main protagonist, Willy. The combinations of techniques that Miller uses gives us the impression that nothing good can come out of the American Dream, as if almost hopeless to even have a dream. On the other hand, Plath uses the ideas of isolation being the problem, which we see in Esther's case. Plath uses the ideas of isolation coupled with depression to show the bleakness of striving to achieve a dream, which is a belief that Plath shares. This idea of isolation resonates in both main protagonists and leads back to the notion of society being the problem. Both characters don't fit in with society and are both under strain to be something they do not want to be. This gives us the sense that they are born into the wrong society and this I believe is the point that both authors try to explore, that there is nothing wrong with the characters themselves but it is the world around them that is flawed and through various narrative and stage techniques the authors convey this conclusion successfully. ...read more.

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