16 April 2012
Victims of Themselves
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman tells the story of how Willy Loman’s life was affected by his struggle to achieve his version of the “American Dream.” Similar to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Miller’s play also gives a view of what the corruption and greed of society in those days did to the dream while at the same time showing that Willy was not a victim of society, but one of his own decisions.
Even though The Great Gatsby was written more then 20 years prior, the theme of a businessman longing to achieve the “American Dream” that society had created is prevalent. Fitzgerald uses Jay Gatsby, in the same way Miller uses Willy, to show how chasing after the unobtainable dream that society has created only removes one from reality: “Fitzgerald sees the American dream—its ideology and its very character—as a contradiction to and a distortion of reality” (Hearne 190). As the plot develops in both Jay and Willy’s stories’ we see them drifting further and further from sanity as they struggle to prove to those around them that they have been successful in achieving their versions of the dream. For Willy it is the knowledge of the accomplishments of wealthy people in his past like his brother Ben’s success at such a young age that consumes him. Multiple times he says "The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he's rich” (Miller 28). Willy lets this story and ones similar to it hang over him and consume him while Jay Gatsby lets the hope of impressing his former lover Daisy control him. Gatsby devotes his young life to achieving wealth, which is the one thing that he believes is keeping him from having her.
Their missions to become something different from who they are only furthers them from reality. In Death of a Salesman, Willy comes in and out of sanity in almost every conversation he... [continues]
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