Define "The American Dream". In what way does Death of a Salesman point out the hopelessness of chasing this dream? Are there any rewards?
The idea of the American Dream is truly subjective. To some, it is living in the lap of luxury in all aspects. To others, it is a chance at a better brighter opportunity for themselves or their families. Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" portrays the promise of the American Dream in the form of opportunity, freedom, success and wealth; the ability to acquire all material comforts in American Life, and sacrifices one must make in order to achieve it.
For Willy Loman, hard work could not earn him everything that he wanted or thought he deserved. Willy judged life in terms of material wealth. Willy's interpretation of success is superficial- for example, his childish disliking toward Bernard because he thinks Bernard is a nerd. It is this blindness that results in his rapid psychological decline. Willy Loman caused his fixation with approval, wealth and likeability to block the more rewarding understanding of the American Dream that identifies true hard work as the key to success.
From childhood, Willy & his brother were abandoned at a very young age. He was left without money or memory from his father, thus thrusting his will to achieve the American Dream into high gear. His brother Ben then leaves for Alaska, leaving Willy to lose himself in his own twisted version of the American Dream. These events likely caused Willy to fear abandonment and attempt to raise perfect sons. It is these obsessions and fascinations with the American Dream that lead to his declining mental health.
Throughout the novel, Willy's reality directly conflicts with his hopes. He constructed elaborate fantasies to deny evidence of his failure to fulfill his desires and expectations. His consciousness became so jaded that he could not even maintain a consistent fantasy. One moment in particular, he calls Biff a lazy...
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