Destruction of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman

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Destruction of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman A white picket fence surrounds the tangible icons of the American Dreams in the middle 1900's: a mortgage, an automobile, a kitchen appliance paid for on the monthly - installment - plan, and a silver trophy representative of high school football triumph. A pathetic tale examining the consequences of man's harmartias, Arthur Miller's "Death of A Salesman" satisfies many, but not all, of the essential elements of a tragedy. Reality peels away the thin layers of Willy Loman's American Dream; a dream built on a lifetime of poor choices and false values. Although the characters are not of noble birth nor possess a heroic nature nor experience a reversal of fortune, many of the elements in "Death of A Salesman" fulfill the criteria of a classic tragedy. The downfall and crisis points in the play are directly linked to the Loman family's combined harmartias, or personal flaws. The Loman's have unrealistic ideas regarding the meaning of success. To Willy, the foundation of success is not education or hard work, but rather "who you know and the smile on your face." Moreover, Willy ridicules the education Bernard has earned, declaring that his sons, Biff and Hap, will get further ahead in the business world because "the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked, and you will never want." Willy idolizes two men: his brother, Ben, who walked out of an African jungle a rich man, and an 84-year-old salesman who could "pick a phone in twenty or thirty cities and be remembered and loved, and finally honored by hundred of mourners at his funeral." To Linda, success is paying off a 25... ... middle of paper ... ...ue values. In addition to the link between a character's downfall and the character's harmartias, recognition, or personal discovery, is a crucial element of tragedy. In the requiem of the play, Biff had a glimpse of personal recognition, although Willy, Linda, and Hap never discover the truth about themselves. Biff realizes Willy had the wrong dreams. In accepting the truth about his father, Biff is able to make a decision about his own future based on a realistic view of his capabilities. Is "Death of A Salesman" a tragedy or an illustration of pathos? By classic standards of tragedy the play fails only in the types of characters and lack of reversal of fortune, not in its examination of the consequences of man's harmartias. Realistic dreams, suitable choices, and honest values are the necessary tools to build the white picket fence of the American Dream.
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