• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A play that demonstrates the emptiness of the American dream". How far do you agree with this assessment of 'Death of a Salesman'? It is evident from the first view of 'death of a salesman'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"A play that demonstrates the emptiness of the American dream". How far do you agree with this assessment of 'Death of a Salesman'? It is evident from the first view of 'death of a salesman' that there are definite, negative realities in the American dream. From writing this play, Miller has strongly illustrated that the American dream produces an image that human worth and values can be measured in financial terms. During 1940's America, capitalism and consumerism was at it's strongest with the American dream acting as a predator to the unsuspicious, determined and success-hungry businessmen of America. Although some of these men prospered in creating a successful business and earned a lot of money, others failed and felt that their own small achievements were empty and insignificant. In the play, Willy (like other American salesmen) has focused his life and attention on achieving the American dream and being a successful role model to his sons. Willy, however, does not accomplish success and instead falls victim to capitalism. His main belief is that popularity leads to personal and business triumph, and materialistic items prove that he is well liked and loved by his friends and family. ...read more.

Middle

This again could be construed as an purposeless success in the process of achieving the American dream. Another point of perspective is that the women, like materialistic items and commercialism, may produce status in the American social system, but they also produce stress and not necessarily happiness. Willy is in constant competition with his neighbour Charley, continuously aiming to be 'bigger than Uncle Charley' and promising his sons this success. This point suggests that materialism and the American dream are more important than general well-being and human worth, and some critics feel that through this neighbourly competition, Miller is questioning the values of America as a whole. Willy's mind and psychology also breakdown because of his obsession with the American dream, and his dreams become illusions. Eventually, Willy is fighting with illusions and reality and believes all he is worth is his insurance money, stressing the idea that the American dream is empty and human values can be measured economically. The irony of Linda declaring 'we're free' at the end of the play is both ironic and tragic as although she is now free of debt, the empty American dream the illuded both Willy and herself is still holding her and others ensnared. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miller himself argues that the play is not entirely based on the faults of the American dream although it does question American values very powerfully. He strengthens his argument because, although Willy is defeated by the American dream, Charley is entirely successful without creating personal flaws from his dreams of success. Bernard, his son, is also a genuine (as well as successful) person; a complete difference from Willy's sons. As a result, 'Death of a salesman' almost perfectly depicts aspects of the American dream today. Our twenty first century ideals, dreams and illusions echo, even more so perhaps, the prosperous America of fifty years ago. It can be related to by people of our culture today as well as those from the 1940's, making the powerful reminders of the illusion focused on in 'Death of a Salesman' completely relevant to our world. It is from this that I have come to the conclusion that, although 'Death of a Salesman' subtly contains stories of success due to the American dream, this play is a textbook illustration of the emptiness of the American dream and consumerism; where failure and disappointment eats away at happiness and confidence, but success is, similarly, an empty accomplishment. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. What do you think Arthur Miller is trying to say about 'success' and the ...

    Willy is abandoned by his father at a young age, and so looks to his brother for information about their father and his legacy. For Willy, it is important to know the legacy of his father in order to follow the same path in life.

  2. The American Nightmare: Is Death of a Salesman a stanch critique of the American, ...

    the world, he wishes to die the death of a salesman: WILLY: He died the death of a Salesman... hundreds of salesmen and buyers were at his funeral. He has brought his sons up believing this too, and this becomes obvious as they grow up, for example Happy's belief that

  1. How does Arthur Miller present the flaws and limitations of the American Dream in ...

    This represents another limitation of the American Dream; people have to work hard to get where they want. Bernard, Biff's high school friend, is an example of a hard working person because he worked hard to get where he wanted and yet he never mentioned it to Willy, 'The Supreme Court!

  2. The play 'Death of a salesmen' is based upon the American dream.

    Linda remains as the typical housewife whom is portrayed in the American dream as being on her husbands side and does nothing but stick up for him and take care of the house and shopping, but Linda has a much more important role than this, Linda seems to be the

  1. The American Dream

    Lennie needs something to pet and we have learnt that early on in the story, when George tells the reader of what happened and why they had to move; also when George bans the stroked dead mouse. Rabbits would be tougher than mice and would breed to create more things to pet.

  2. A constant dreamer

    There he stood for a moment, looking through the bars and still growling. Then of a sudden his courage seemed to desert him: he gave one long howl, and scuttled back to the house with a curious crouching sort of movement. "He does that half-a-dozen times a day." said John.

  1. This play is really a piece of veiled social criticism, its theme on the ...

    or it could be more simply, that she uses the attention she gets from the joking as a substitute for the love that she never got as a child. Her control over George is seen right from the beginning, she is extremely over possessive of their marriage and yet at times she appears as if she couldn't care less.

  2. Death of a Salesman PC Version.

    Miller, through Willy, explores the view that the American dream, imposes unrealistic expectations upon people, Miller suggests that the dreams society forces normal people like Willy to dreams causes these people to dream the wrong, unattainable dream and it is this which leads to the downfall of Willy.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work