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The Concept of American Dream in "Death of a Salesman"

The American Dream is the fairy-tale by which equity of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest need for goals to be achieved. In the 1950’s Americans was able to go after the American Dream, with big hopes towards the future Americans were able to own homes and start families. In the 1946 through the 1964 many babies were born and had reached its highest peak in 1957 Parents were able to encourage their children to become whatever it is that they wanted to be and truly believed it.

Which freedom involve the chance of wealth and success, as well as moving up from lower class for the family and children, accomplished through being dedicated and hard workers in a society with many problems.

The American dream became more than just a word, it was life to all Americans with a chance for each without being affected by social class or situation of birth. The American Dream is not about material things but more of being able to achieve things to the fullest sprout as man and woman, uncontrolled by the hurdles which had slowly been put in the older civilizations, unrestricted by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.

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The American dream was not a easy way of life family values, and desire become reconciled. The American Dream is something everyone wish to have but achieving it is not that easy. African Americans still had no access to the American Dream and over half of the African American population were below poverty line in the 1950’s.

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However, even some white males who the dream was created for did not achieve the American Dream. There were a few people who was accepted and achieved the American Dream, middle class white men were nothing better than poor black African American women. Everyone had there own style of the American Dream Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. In the 1950’s the American Dream was more about survival instead of success but some people see success different some see success as money and others see success as happiness and family but things have changed now in 2019.

On the other hand, living the American Dream with different races such as Whites and African Americans dealt with living the dream differently. In the play Death of a Salesman or Fences the American Dream that anyone can achieve financial success and material comfort was how both races dealt with it, in different ways of life. In Death of an old salesman Willy Lowman is a 60 year old man who is deranged, self conscious and delusional. Willy have a tendency to conjure up things in the past that is not real. His loving, loyal, wife Linda Lowman is suffering because of her husbands delusions and egotistic ways. Sometimes she feels that she is going in circles with Willy Lowman’s egotistic belief and outlook of success. Willy explains to his wife Linda that their 34 year old son Biff , who is on his way to visit, has not done anything good with his life and he is lazy. Willy is known to have frequent memories in which he sees things and figures from his past, like his deceased older brother Ben who has been deceased for some time, and Willy looked up to him. Lacking ability to understand between his memories, present-day reality, he speaks to the people in his flashbacks as if they were real, scaring those around him. Biff and his brother Happy, who is also visiting, discuss their father’s mental loss of pride while reminiscing about their childhood together. When Willy walks in, angry that the two boys have never became anything, Biff and Happy tell Willy that Biff plans to make a business suggestion the next day in an effort to soothe their father. The next day, Willy goes to ask Howard for a job in town while Biff goes to make a business but neither suggestion, are successful. Willy gets angry and ends up getting fired when Howard tells him that he needs a rest and can no longer represent the company. Biff waits hours to see a former employer who does not remember him and turns him down from the job. Biff impulsively steals a fountain pen. Willy goes to the office of his neighbor, Charley, where he runs into Charley’s son Bernard, who is now a successful lawyer.

Bernard tells him that Biff originally wanted to do well in summer school to salvage his academic and athletic career after not passing math, but when Biff made an emergency trip to Boston to seek help from Willy, who was then on a sales trip, something occurred there that changed Biff’s mind. Happy, Biff, and Willy meet for dinner at a restaurant, but Willy refuses to hear bad news from Biff. Happy tries to get Biff to lie to their father. Biff tries to tell him what happened as Willy gets angry and slips into a flashback of what happened in Boston the day Biff came to see him. Willy had been in a hotel on a sales trip with a young woman named Miss Francis when Biff unexpectedly arrived and realized that Willy was cheating on Linda. From that moment, Biff’s view of his father and all of his father’s cherished hopes and dreams for him changed irrevocably, setting Biff adrift. Biff leaves the restaurant in frustration, followed by Happy and two girls, Miss Forsythe and Letta, that Happy has picked up. They leave a confused and upset Willy behind in the restaurant. When they later return home, their mother angrily confronts them for abandoning their father while Willy remains talking to himself outside. Biff goes outside to try to reconcile with Willy. The discussion quickly escalates into another argument, at which point Biff forcefully tries to convey to his father that he is not meant for anything great, that he is simply ordinary, insisting that they both are. The feud culminates with Biff hugging Willy and crying as he tries to get him to let go of the unrealistic dreams that he still carries for Biff and wants instead for Willy to accept him for who he really is. He tells his father he loves him. Rather than listen to what Biff actually says, Willy realizes that his son has forgiven him and thinks that Biff will now pursue a career as a businessman. Willy – with encouragement from Ben, whom he ‘sees’ and speaks to in one of his flashbacks — kills himself by intentionally crashing his car so that Biff can use the life insurance money to start his business. However, at the funeral, Biff retains his belief that he does not want to become a businessman. Happy, on the other hand, chooses to follow in his father’s footsteps.

On the other hand, in fences the American was different. August Wilson’s Fences tells the story of Troy Maxson and his family in the 1950s. Troy is a former star baseball player of the Negro league who aged out before black men could play for the major league and now works as a garbage man. His story is one of heartbreak, turmoil, indecision, and tragedy. Troy Maxson is the undeniable definition of a tragic character. Strong willed, stubborn, and savagely proud of his ability to provide for his family against all odds, a jaded fire burns inside of Troy Maxson, never allowing his scars to truly heal. Troy’s son Cory is a gifted football player that has the opportunity to attend college on a football scholarship, but Troy’s resentment of never getting to play professional baseball brings out an ugliness that he insists on sharing with those closest to him. His anger and acidity nearly eats through his entire family, because he cannot accept the hand that life has dealt. He’s a former homerun hero turned trash picker. His son is signing up to endure the pain he struggles to overcome while simultaneously potentially accomplishing what he never could, and his wife filled with unconditional love, may be the best he’ll ever have. Today the American Dream is much different it has taken on a new plan. Like being able to graduate college with low debt, keep a job with good benefits, affording healthcare cost, paying off loans and still live a wealthy life. The American Dream is not over it still exist depending on how you define it. To me the American Dream is more about getting a education be successful and able to build a family and strive for happiness. Although everyone may not agree I believe the American Dream is still alive there is a lot of opportunities for people.

In conclusion, In Death Of A Salesman and Fences, these stories follow two middle-class families around the same time period (late 1940-1950’s), who are both facing problems within their own household’s. From marital issues to failing father/son relationships, both of these stories paint a picture to the audience of what life in an urban family living in that time setting was like through the author’s eyes. It’s common to compare Troy to Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman as nothing more than cheating, angry, and arrogant, but the circumstances in which Troy gets to his place in life verse Willy Loman’s is important to note. Willy Loman is a white man of privilege who runs his life down the drain. And even yet with all the things between these two plays that make them alike, there are also many things that make them very different.

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The Concept of American Dream in "Death of a Salesman". (2020, Sep 16). Retrieved from

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