February 11, 2011
Death of a Salesman: American Dream Depiction
World War I officially ended in 1918, followed shortly after by the Great Depression in 1929. The time period between these times of difficulty held essentially no hope for the American society. Gertrude Stein dubbed the American authors of this time period who rejected the previously held mainstream ideas of the nation and focused on criticisizing American ideals “The Lost Generation” (Juan). Incorporated amongst this assortment of authors, Arthur Miller portrays the flaws and human downfalls of the “American Dream” based on the social and economic state of the nation during this time period in his play Death of a Salesman as protagonist Willy Lowman strains to achieve popularity, status, and wealth.
Willy Loman, the average American, yearns to achieve wealth, status and happiness. He desires the typical American Dream. Once thought of as the opportunity to work one’s way up through the ranks to success through difficult manual labor, the American Dream has become somewhat like an unwritten version of the Bible-adapted through one’s own view points, goals, and desires (Idaho Business Review). Throughout the years the American Dream evolved into less of a moral lesson advocating hard work and more into a yearning for success through happenstance good fortune (Juan). Willy aspires to greatness through the approval of others (Phillips 20). Miller reiterates Willy’s insatiable thirst for public approval throughout the play with his constant repetition of being “well-liked” and his obsession with dying “the death of a salesman” with many guests attending his funeral (Miller 1446). Willy maintains a severely skewed perspective pertaining to the American Dream without ever reaching his goal. Willy does not work his way from the bottom, toiling his way to success; he wastes his time in a dead end career with no tangible reward. A direct line from Death of a...