Essay: Death of a Salesman
America has long been known as the land of opportunity. After World War II, the purpose of all Americans was to achieve the American Dream: the idea that anyone can ultimately achieve success, even if they begin with nothing. According to Arthur Miller, “From Orestes to Hamlet, Medea to Macbeth, the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his “rightful” position in his society” (Miller 1200). In the play Death of a Salesman, Miller developed the roles of Charley, Bernard and Ben to bring into relief the psychological tensions present in the character of Willy Loman by constantly contrasting his unfulfilling life with these character’s successful lives. Charley is the perfect example of someone who has completely fulfilled the American dream. He has worked hard all his life, he has been honest, and is now a successful business man. Willy envies his success, but he cannot understand how Charley did it because “Charley is not liked. He is liked, but he is not well liked” (30). This man is living proof that you have to work hard in life to achieve your dreams. His success story invalidates Willy’s theory which says that the most important thing in life is to be well liked. Charley doesn’t need to be well liked, he has money and respect. In contrast with Willy, he didn’t choose the easy path. He took the long hard path and worked day and night to achieve his dreams. It is also evidently clear that Charley’s success hurts Willy’s ego and brings out his conceited side. Knowing he can’t match Charley's standards, his wounded pride takes over and he systematically breaks down any conversation they have by menacing his only friend with his cutting words: “You big ignoramus, if you say that to me again, I’ll rap you one! I don’t care how big you are! He is ready to fight!” (97). This unstable behaviour reflects Willy’s distorted personality. Charley even offers Willy a job, which could have solved all of his...
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