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What Dramatic Techniques Does Miller Use to Explore the Concept of the American Dream and Ultimately Criticise It?

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What Dramatic Techniques Does Miller Use to Explore the Concept of the American Dream and Ultimately Criticise It? The American 'Dream' consists of a genuine and determined belief that in America all things are possible to all men, regardless of birth or wealth and if you work hard enough you will achieve anything. A man has to be resourceful enough so he can make his own luck and he has to imagine that if he tries hard, the sky is his limit. However in the Death of a Salesman, Miller argues that people have been misguided from the original dream. The original dream started, when the 18th and 19th immigrants came to America to have a chance of a better life. Also many of the people who came to America wanted the opportunity to own their own land. Eventually the land ran out, cities developed and massive variations in wealth arose and this is when the American Dream, changed from reality onto a 'dream'. The original ways of the American Dream were to be hard working, honest and have an ambition. Eventually this would lead onto success, wealth and power, but this soon developed into encouraging greed, selfish behaviour, as well as pride and rivalry between one another. ...read more.


In my opinion, Howard Wagner treats Willy harshly, because Willy has been very loyal to the business and has no reward for his length of service. What Willy doesn't seem to realise is that results are all that matter and he can't seem to get to grips with understanding that. At his funeral Charlie says a few words about being a salesman, because he knows that Willy's view of success is extremely flawed. "He's a man out there, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back- that's like an earthquake." Charlie also said, "The only thing you've got in this world is what you can sell." As Willy can't sell anything he has got nothing and he loses his self-respect. Also Biff said, " He has the wrong dreams. All the wrong dreams, and he never knew who he was." In the city there is power and business pressure and Willy can't handle this pressure so he prefers the countryside, because there isn't that much pressure. He is attracted to the wild, free and open countryside and Willy gets very claustrophobic. "The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows, windows and bricks." The lighting effects with the leaves and trees are very symbolic, as this helps to give Willy in taste of the countryside and it reminds him of what he is missing. ...read more.


Even though in the play Willy has flashbacks, I think what Miller is trying to tell the audience is that Willy is so desperate to justify his life that he lost the difference between past and present. The music used in the Death of a Salesman was very clever, because some characters had different instruments and music used for them, in order for the audience to realise, in Willy's daydreams, who it is. For Willy it was a flute and for Ben it was a very distinct type of music. The staging was clever too, because there were no walls between the rooms. So when it was the present day, people walked through a doorway and when it was in one of Willy's 'daydreams´┐Ż they ignored the walls. Again this was to assist the audience in being aware of the characters being in real life and the ones in Willy's daydreams. Most of the content of the Death of a Salesman is critical of modern American society; but this was not Arthur Miller's sole purpose in writing it. Willy's misjudgment of his failure in life is demonstrated in 'Death of a Salesman´┐Ż. He feels as though he has failed because he has no fortune to show for it, in either his or his son's names. What he has truly failed in is his family life, and his married life. That is the corruption of the true 'American Dream'. By Hyder Mushtaq . ...read more.

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