The American Dream in Death of a Salesman Essay
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Present an analysis of issues and ideas linked to your class texts and areful choice of hyperlinks relating to these subjects Visual representations of your chosen and ideas Character section should profile one charcter from each of your texts, detailing their background, interests, etc Compose a blog with at least three messages on a topic relevant to an issue linked to your study
The American Dream
The American Dream is an issue portrayed through different aspects and characters in Death of a Salesman.
Through the play, failed visions of the American Dream are contrasted with the successful ones, highlighting the abstract quality and implications of such delusions. Willy is unable to accept the disparity between his belief in his diminutive version of the dream and his own life. The failure of Willy’s dream is indicative of the fact that the bewildered circle of American society has broken down his personal relationships, and also that the society is unstable.
This reveals the tragic side of the American Dream, where it does not bring anticipation, but affliction.
In contrary to this, the play also demonstrates the prosperous version of the American Dream, through Willy’s brother, Ben, whose wealth is an example of tangible success. Ben is not alive and is a figment of Willy’s troubled imagination. He gloats and says, ‘Why, boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God, I was rich!’ The material wealth and pervasiveness of capitalism in American society drives Ben into giving up his intention of looking for his father, and instead, flourishing economically. Willy associates Ben with qualities that he himself severely lacks
Realtiy vs Illusion
Willy has dreams of material success, notoriety and has a misguided notion of the American Dream. These hopes dwarf the other aspects of his mentality and ultimately result in a psychological descent. He is then unable to distinguish his wild dreams and unattainable goals from the harsh reality of the present. Willy attempts to convince his sons that he is well-liked: ‘… and know me,boys, they know me up and down New England…’ This demonstrates that he is discernibly delusional, as he is neither well-liked nor known. The pressure of striving for success becomes evident in Willy, where he becomes immoral, harsh and illogical.
His intense desire for gaining respect results in reliving past memories and triumphs to boost his ego, which is adopted by his family, much to their detriment. His son Biff suffers through immense embarrassment and shame derived from his father’s failed hopes, distorting his own sense of purpose and reality. The Loman’s all live in a world of illusions, and their issues mostly revolve around Willy. Linda encourages Willy’s inflated sense of self by providing false compliments and the negative aspects of his personality. Abandonment and Betrayal The issues of abandonment and betrayal are prominent in Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman’s father and brother abandoned him as a child, leaving him emotionally unstable.
This rendered him to be extremely deficient in terms of nurturing his children and emotional comfort. The betrayal from such a young age resulted in a lack of morals and an unhealthy perception of life, which would most likely have been non-existent with the presence of a father figure. Willy is evidently desperate for memories of his father: ‘No, Ben! Please tell me about Dad.’ As his fear of abandonment grows, Willy attempts to raise flawless children, reflecting his inability to understand reality.
Even though he is set on Biff’s imminent success, Biff betrays him and he refuses to accept his father’s unattainable, dementia-driven dreams for him. Another example of betrayal in Death of a Salesman is when Willy, who fears betrayal from his family, ironically betrays Linda, by having an affair with another woman and also buying stockings for her. At this time, stockings were expensive and Willy’s unfaithfulness to his wife was shown when he bought stockings for a strange woman, rather than for Linda. At the end of the play, Willy ends up abandoning his own family, by committing suicide.
‘Death of a Salesman’ is a tragic play which explores the concept of material success, reputation and dreams. Willy Loman is a man who is chasing his unattainable goals and whose mind lives in the past. His mind is set on materialistic achievements, so much that his dreams are passed on to his family, as well. The Lomans are a family of delusional people – a family of lies and deceit. In the end, Willy is unable to abstain from reality anymore, and ultimately, results in him committing suicide. This play demonstrates the effect of the ‘American Dream’ and how people’s dreams can be shattered by false promises in their business lives and also their personal relationships.
Willy LOMAN – character profile
Name: Willy Loman
Age: 45-55 years old
Present Family: Linda Loman, Biff Loman, Happy Loman
Profession: He has been a traveling salesman of the lowest position for 34 years Interests and goals: His dream is to become like Dave Singleman, who was a very popular salesman. He wants to be successful in life, and to be known to everyone as a great salesman. Background: His father and his brother abandoned him as an infant.