Death Of A Salesman

Satisfactory Essays
Critical Essay – Drama
The idea that any person can rise from humble beginnings to greatness is the basis of the American Dream. Arthur Miller paints a harsh picture of this ideal in the drama Death of a Salesman. The main character, Willy Loman, is a complex and tragic figure. He is a man striving to hold onto what dignity he has left in a world that no longer values the beliefs he grew up with. While society can be blamed for much of Willy’s misfortune, he must also be blamed for his bad judgement, disloyalty and his foolish pride.
Willy Loman’s own delusions are a result of his failure to succeed in life. He still believes he is popular, respected and good-looking. But at age sixty-three, he is none of those. When presented with a bill he knows he cannot pay, Willy convinces himself that a sales trip to Hartford will solve his problems. He vows to his wife, “I’ll knock ‘em dead next week. I’ll go to Hartford, I’m very well liked in Hartford'; (1809). However, in those moments that he begins to realize the truth, his wife Linda while understanding his situation, supports his delusion. She says to him “…you’re the handsomest man in the world'; (1809). But the truth is being popular and good looking is not the key to success. Success is achieved through hard work and perseverance.
The American Dream has long turned sour for Willy. At the beginning of his life, he remembers travelling in a wagon going westward. His parents conquered the new frontier and succeeded. His brother Ben, “Walked into a jungle, and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich'; (1811). For a while, the American Dream was alive in Willy too. He helped stake out new territories by selling his goods, his son Biff was going to a university with a scholarship and he had a home with no apartments closing in on him. But now, Willy is forced to work on commission at an old age and ultimately fired by his godson. His favored son Biff is also a hopeless dreamer, unable to hold on to a job. Willy’s “fatherly advice'; advocated “…it’s not what you do. It’s who you know and the smile on your face'; (1833). Willy’s delusions of fame and fortune infected his own life and spread to the sons he had placed such high hopes on.
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