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Willie Loman's Tragic Misinterpretation of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman

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Willie Loman is an ordinary man who embodies traditional American values of success. He has reached the age where he can no longer compete successful in his chosen career, that of a traveling salesman. Faced with the termination of his job, he begins to examine his past life to determine its value. At this critical point in Willie’s existence, his oldest son Biff has returned home for a visit, and Willie’s old desire for his son to be a traditional success in life is rekindled. But the old tensions between the two men are also renewed. Once again, to Willie’s great disappointment, his son rejects Willie’s values and aspirations. (“Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller 1949 Drama”)
The “American Dream” is “the belief that through the pioneer virtues of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, and fortitude, one might find happiness through wealth” (“Death of a Salesman”). This is the center of our lives as Americans; we all want to accomplish it one way or another. The concept of the American Dream shown in the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is believed by Harold Clurman to be divided into two meanings; the historical dream and the business success dream. In our society the biggest achievement is when you buy your own house, and live with a stable job, it does not have to be a high paying job but one that allows you to pay your bills and live a decent life, if you have this then you have achieved the historical dream. In the other hand if you have a high paying job in the corporate world; meaning a white collar job, and although you might or might not own a house but you earn more than enough for your living expenses then that is consider to be the business success dream. Willie Loman had already achieved the historical drea...


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...” Juvenile and Young Adult Literature Series.(Feb. 2005). Magill On Literature Plus Ebscohost. City U of New York Lib. 14 Nov. 2006 .

Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. 4th compact ed. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Longman, 2005. 1194-1266.

Murphy, Brenda and Susan C.W. Abbotson. “Death of a Salesman’s Impact on American Culture.” Understanding Death of a Salesman. Ed. Claudia Durst Jhonson. Westport CT.: Greenwood Press, 1999. 197-201.

Murphy, Brenda and Susan C.W. Abbotson. “The Significance of Death of a Salesman’s” Understanding Death of a Salesman. Ed. Claudia Durst Jhonson. Westport CT.: Greenwood Press, 1999. 4-7.

Stanton, Kay. “Women and the American Dream of Death of a Salesman.” Willy Loman. Ed. Harold Bloom. USA: Chelsea, 1991. 129-153.

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