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In the light of critical opinions discuss Millers exploration of the American Dream in Death of A Salesman in relation to the characters of Willy and Biff Loman. Focus upon the ideas of success and failure within the American Dream in relation to Mil

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Introduction

In the light of critical opinions discuss Miller's exploration of the American Dream in Death of A Salesman in relation to the characters of Willy and Biff Loman. Focus upon the ideas of success and failure within the American Dream in relation to Miller's portrayal of Willy's idolisation of Biff and the effect this has on Biff's life. The term 'The American Dream' by its very nature is an unrealistic phrase. The use of the word dream reflects the fact that although it is an aspirational concept it may not actually be achieved by the majority of the American population. Some may argue that it is a dream born of a system, which aims to exploit the hardworking people of America. In his critique of Death of A Salesman Leonard Moss states 'Is he (Miller) not attacking in short, a system that is geared to exploit the common man?'? There are clearly instances within the play where the writer suggests it is impossible for Willy to achieve the dream. Although the concept of the American Dream is thought to result in equality amongst a nation of immigrants, it may be perceived as being dictatorial. This is because it is telling Americans how to live their lives and although one objective of the American Dream may be to achieve freedom, it may in actual fact be oppressing those in pursuit of it. ...read more.

Middle

In accepting the truth about his father, Biff is able to make a decision about his future based on a realistic view of his capabilities"?. He rebels from his father's ideals of success and ways of life and this could possible be a way in which he is trying to tell his father that they cannot achieve the American Dream. The theme of unconditional support between father and son is explored in the play. "The character of Willy Loman is the "the little salesman with a pathetic belief in his worthless son"?. As Willy is living his dreams through Biff, his love for Biff is great. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get Biff to accomplish something in life. When Biff is failing in Maths, Willy encourages him to cheat, and this represents the lengths that Willy would go to, to help Biff. "That's because he likes you. If somebody else took that ball there'd be an uproar" (Page 17 Act 1). Willy almost encourages Biff's bad behaviour and excuses it because of his popularity. Willy's father left him when he was a child. Moreover, he left no money or legacy to be passed onto Willy and Ben. This may have been the point in Willy's life in which he began to suffer a social injustice as he felt determined to make something of himself to pass onto further generations to free them from the hardship that he suffered. ...read more.

Conclusion

He refuses to acknowledge that he is a failure. An example of this in the play is where Willy says that he'll buy a new tape recorder (like the one Howard has) even though he is fully aware that he has no money to pay for it. "The Loman's have unrealistic ideas of success. To Willy, the foundation of success is not education or hard work but rather 'who you know and the smile on your face'?. Willy is a proud man who doesn't want others to perceive him as a failure, as this would force him to confront reality, whereas he prefers to live in a world where he conceals his problems and keeps a false pretence that everything is fine. Biff, like Willy, ignores aspects of reality that do not fit in with his ideals "You're a - you're an idealist!" (Page 11 Act 1). Some may argue that the system is to blame but ultimately he creates his own destiny. Faith in the system motivated him throughout his life but towards the end it left him "tired to the death" (Page 2 Act 1) Reference List. ? ? ? ? Craig M. Garrison The System and the American Dream *DEATH OF A Salesman* (Online) http://playwrites.net/salesman1.html ? ? Bamber Gascoigne (1962) Twentieth Century Drama. Hutchinson &Co. ? ? K. Linderholm (1995) The American Dream. (Online) http://members.aol.com/sunny2345/salesman.html Accessed 01/12/2005 ? Leonard Moss (1980) Arthur Miller. Brief excerpt from the preface (Online) <http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/miller-into.html> * J.C. Trewin (English Reviewer) Drama. ...read more.

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