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

What view of the American Dream does Miller present in “Death of a Salesman”?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What view of the American Dream does Miller present in "Death of a Salesman"? In "Death of a Salesman" Miller presents a corrupted view of the American Dream. It has become corrupted due to the increased importance of consumerism and materialism instead of the traditional values of spiritual happiness and physical comfort. In "Death of a Salesman" Willy's view of the American Dream is solely about material wealth, overshadowing the importance of freedom and spiritual fulfilment. The play is about how the American Dream translates from the original context of agriculture, and freedom through the ownership of land, to the modern day urban existence. Willy and Happy have been brought up to believe that achievement can only be measured in terms of wealth, as shown by Happy when he says "Yeah, but when he walks into the store the waves part in front of him. That's fifty-two thousand dollars a year coming through the revolving door." This is due to the fast economic development and urbanisation of America after World War II. The urban society found it difficult to relate to the traditional ideas of property and freedom. The play therefore romanticizes the rural-agrarian dream but does not make it genuinely available to Willy, instead it is just part of Willy's fantasies, as is shown when he tells Linda that "Before it's all over (they're) ...read more.

Middle

"I was thinking of the Chevvy," he says when he confuses the car he drives to work with the car he owned in 1928. As a result, the drama of the play lies not so much in its events, but in Willy's deluded interpretation and perception of them. Miller purposely names the main character of the play "Willy Loman" to emphasise the fact that Willy is meant to represent the Everyman. In using this average person as the main character of his play, Miller amalgamates the archetypal tragic hero with the mundane American citizen. Willy therefore is perceived as a contemporary example of a classic tragic hero. It seems that Miller's intention in writing about the death of a salesman, a seemingly mundane occurrence in twentieth-century society, was to express the playwright's own vision of an American society and the nature of individuality. Miller uses Linda as a vessel for his justification of writing about the tragedy of a mediocre individual when she says, "A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man. He works for a company thirty-six years this March, opens up unheard-of territories to their trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary away." Miller is showing how the corruption of the American Dream has lead to such competition for wealth and success that the average person is brutally cut down from office in the race for success. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Charley has clearly fulfilled the American Dream, the play cannot be seen to be condemning it, but merely showing that it is unattainable for the majority. Although paradoxically Charley has fulfilled the American Dream by ignoring it. The success of Bernard, "Gonna argue a case in front of the Supreme Court." Shows the merits of Charley's philosophy on life: "My salvation is that I never took any interest in anything." This shows that Charley's approach is the complete antithesis of Willy's. The fact that Charley has been successful, and Willy a failure, is a clear condemnation of Willy's huge aspirations for wealth. Biff tries to break away from Willy's ideas of the American Dream, and his incessant quest for wealth and improved social status. He realises that, although the possibility of property and wealth are open to many in the city, he is more suited to physical labour, as he does not have the entrepreneurial skills required to make it in the city. "I looked up at the sky... and I realised what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been." He can admit to being an average human being, something that Willy finds beyond him, as is shown when he tells Willy that "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you!". Biff also realises that Charley is fulfilling the American Dream and so looks to him for inspiration, which even leads Linda to say "Then make Charley your father, Biff. ...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. The American Dream

    Furthermore Curley's wife sneaks around mysteriously. She brings danger with her and bad things happen to people who communicate too much with her. She is, as they boys describe her, '"...a rat trap"' and she speaks '"...darkly"' to people. I think Steinbeck is trying to describe the way she regards the people around her and the

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

    Willy wonders "what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?".

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

    Willy and Linda had only one payment left on their twenty five year mortgage before the house is their own, and Linda feels quite content and happy about this. But Willy is still unhappy, questioning the reason for owning the house in the first place: 'What point?'.

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

    He then welcomes Lennie's company and admits to being lonely: "Books ain't no good. A guy needs somebody-to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody" (80). Lennie mentions the secret of the piece of land again and Crooks responds that he's seen hundreds of men

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

    As Martha is describing her son, Honey cries out that she wants a child, but Honey's future is ambiguous, too. Whether she will feel the same way after she has sobered up is never clarified. Nick appears to be the perfect candidate for the American dream.

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

    and he exaggerates everything that he has done in the past or that people he cares for have done, he is continually trying to 'sell' himself to everybody and ultimately fails to leave a lasting impression of the respect that the American dream implies.

  1. Death of a Salesman PC Version.

    The main type of dream Miller focuses on is The American Dream, the dream that has sculptured a society all of its own. However, Miller uses Willys daydreams to show us Willys' past and the hopes and dreams he followed that have lead him into his current day situation, Miller

  2. The American Dream - Miller portrays his main character, Willy Loman, not as an ...

    Biff's character is one of a popular nature. When he was at school he was always popular, athletic and full of potential. All this changed however when he went to see his father in Boston. This is when Biff found out about Willy's affair as is shown in willies flashbacks.

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