Friday, 9 February 2018

Miller’s Death' of a Salesman is a challenge to the American dream. Illustrate.

Or Explain “the great American dream”. How does Arthur Miller prove that the dream is illusory? 


The American Dream refers to the ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity traditionally held to be available to every American. It provides the Americans the opportunity of achieving prosperity through hard work. The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 


Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman challenges the effects of the American Dream and shows the cost of blind faith in the American Dream. Willy Loman, the protagonist of the play is on a quest for the American Dream. But his dream is a fruitless pursuit. Time and again, he wants to make sure his boys are well-liked and popular. Of course, Willy’s version of the American Dream never works out. Both Willy and Biff are failure because of the American capitalist system. Willy has rendered valuable services to the Wagner Company for thirty-four years. In his old age, when his sale is not up to the mark, he is put on commission. When he asks his boss Howard for a non-travelling job, he is fired by Howard. Similarly, when Biff goes to his former boss Bill Oliver to borrow money so that he can start a sporting goods business, Oliver even did not recognize him because he was only a shipping clerk. Thus, because of the capitalist system, they cannot achieve success Offered by the American Dream.

Willy constantly tries to be a better man. He dreams to become rich and prosperous, to be liked by everyone, and to be successful in his work and life. But the American society shatters his dream. At last, he tries to capture a small fragment of his American ream by committing suicide so that Biff can start a business with the insurance money. He hopes that his funeral will be attended by hundreds of people; but after his death only Linda, Biff, Happy, and Charley and Bernard attend his funeral. Even there is no indication that the insurance company paid the money. Most likely, the company refused to pay because Willy’s death was a suicide, not an accident. Thus, Willy is deceived by the American Dream. 

In Death of 'a Salesman, Miller has shown the failure of Will)' who is a staunch believer of the American Dream. On the other hand; he has shown the success of Charley, Bernard and Ben. Charley and Bernard do not believe in the American Dream. They are realist. Charley has become successful businessman because of his careful and cautions approach to life and Bernard has become a well-respected lawyer through hard labor.

Thus, through the failure of Willy and the success of Charley and Ben, Miller shows that the American Dream is illusory. His dream ends up in nightmare. So, the play challenges to new American capitalistic concepts.

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