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

What do you think Arthur Miller is trying to say about 'success' and the American Dream in Death of a Salesman? Is he using the story of Willy Loman to put across a message?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What do you think Arthur Miller is trying to say about 'success' and the American Dream in Death of a Salesman? Is he using the story of Willy Loman to put across a message? Death of a salesman was published in 1949, a few years after the end of World War two. It focuses on the achievement and belief in the American Dream. During the 1940s, society was concerned with materialism and status but the 1950s was when the American Dream was at its height. America was founded by the pilgrims who were fleeing religious persecution. They wanted to create a nation where everyone was free and equal, and could be rewarded for their hard work. As America developed, these ideals continued and became known as the American dream. In other words, those who work hard will have great success and wealth. In America, anyone could achieve whatever they wanted, regardless of their class. However, in reality, the American Dream is not as straightforward as it sounds, as one could spend their life working hard and never amount to anything, but this depends on the choices made in life. Success can be interpreted in different ways. In the case of this play, money, occupation and social status measures the success or failure of an individual. For example, people believe a well paying career and having material possessions represents the epitome of being successful. ...read more.

Middle

However, Happy is not content. It is as though he is still missing something - perhaps a wife and children to complete the American Dream, which he believes in as a result of Willy installing this idea in his children from a young age. Happy can have all the women he wants, as he measures success on how many women he can sleep with, yet does not look for love from any of them. However, Happy suggests that he knows he needs a women as he constantly mentions that he is going to get married. Throughout the play, Biff does not know what to do in terms of his future. He is confused due to ideas put into his head by Willy. Since high school, Willy has always suggested that success and rewards come from natural potential rather than hard work and instils the lack of success in Biff by convincing him that good things will come from something inherent rather than something that needs hard work. Willy says that "'Bernard can get the best marks in school...but when he gets out into the business world...[Biff is] going to be five times ahead of him." This shows the corrupt values Willy feeds his sons with. Constant repetition of saying that Biff can get anywhere in life without having to work hard leaves Biff believing that he can do anything and go anywhere and it will be easy, sets Biff up for failure. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are parallels between Willy's funeral and Dave Singleman's - only Willy's family turn up, none of the buyers he talked about, nor his business associates whereas it was only Dave Singleman's business associates and buyers who came to pay their respects. The play can be classed as a socialist drama. Willy lives in a capitalist society which offers success as the ultimate virtue, yet undermines its inhabitants, therefore preventing them from achieving success. These values that are imposed on Willy by society, combined by his own inadequacies lead to his death. These inadequacies interfere with reality and end up replacing it. This characteristic is passed onto Happy which in turn cripples him. Happy wants Willy to love him as much as he loves Biff and so does everything he can to get his father's attention, including believing in the American Dream. I think that Miller is trying to say that you should follow your own dreams and not live someone else's. The concept of the American Dream is a good one, but in reality nothing is certain. A person, like Willy, can work so hard yet not reap the rewards they deserve, possibly due to choices they have made in life or because circumstances change. Willy believed that Biff's popularity was the key to his success. Success does not necessarily mean that you have a high powered job, a big house and a lavish lifestyle. Success is what you make it. 1 www.dictionary.com 2 www.dictionary.com ...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. A constant dreamer

    Now where did that blood come from?" By dint of telling myself that I was not going to think about it, I had succeeded in not doing so, and I did not want, especially just at bedtime, to be reminded of it.

  2. In this assignment I will explain why the main characters in Willy Russell's "Blood ...

    After a long time they get mean" (45). Despite the nuisance that Lennie can be, George admits that "you get used to goin' around with a guy an' you can't get rid of him" (45). George continues to tell Slim of the trouble that Lennie got them into in Weed when he held on to the woman's dress.

  1. A play that demonstrates the emptiness of the American dream". How far do you ...

    may feel that his lack of success may mean he put more pride in his minor accomplishments such as DIY around the house. This is shown when Willy is trying to impress his neighbour Charley by saying 'Did you see the ceiling I put in the living-room?'

  2. "Death of A Salesman," by Arthur Miller, is a play that tells the story ...

    I can park my car in any street...and the cops protect it like their own" (31). Willy makes this distortion of the past in order to make himself believe that he has achieved the American Dream. At times when doing this was not possible, Willy looks to the future and thinks he can still achieve it then.

  1. What aspects of post-war American society are reflected in Arthur Miller's "Death of a ...

    and Happy feel the need to exaggerate all of their achievements, in order to appear ahead of the competition.

  2. The Culture Of Willy Loman

    Willy also believes that failure cannot be tolerated in his family so he then lies to his family about how popular and successful he is. His lying then gets his children to lie, thus having a continuing circle of lies.

  1. Through his portrayal of Willy Loman what comment is Arthur Miller making about the ...

    driven by the necessity to succeed and is dominated by the American dream However in the book as is in real life the amount of people who actually succeeded in the American dream were so few that the characters and real people who they are based on spend their entire

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

    These flashbacks inform the audience what the Loman family was like and what happened since then to have the current situation. It is through the flashbacks that we find where Willy's happiness used to be, it was with his sons, when Biff was a popular footballer and was going to go to university.

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