Dreams and Failures in Arthur Miller´s Death of a Salesman and Thornton Wilder´s Our Town
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Strive not to be of success, but rather to be of value. Albert Einstein
Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it. Ralph Marston
Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town both explore the fulfillment of life. Emily and Willy Loman fail to take advantage of their lives because they have the wrong priorities and do not take the time appreciate what they already have. Willy focuses solely on achieving his dreams of success as a salesman and helping Biff become a great man, resulting in him ignoring his family, declining status in society, and reality, leading to his demise. He never realizes what he has lost by chasing after inconceivable dreams; however, Wilder’s Emily reflects on her life after she dies and begins to understand that her lack of appreciation for the little moments took away from the fullness of her life. Even though Wilder and Miller tell two unique stories, they use similar methods to show their thoughts on living and essentially convey the same message about how dreams can ruin people and how not appreciating the little things takes away from the quality of life.
After seeing both his father and brother find success, Willy attempts to prove himself to his family by chasing after his own version of the American dream. Willy grows up in the “wild prosperity of the 1920’s” when rags-to-riches tales inspire everybody, making them believe that “achieving material success [is] God’s intention for humankind (Abbotson, Criticism by Bloom). Willy’s father, a “very great” and “wildhearted man,” made a living traveling and selling flutes, making “more in a week than a man like [Willy] could make in a lifetime” (Miller 34). Even though Willy barely knew his dad, he built him u...
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...and Bernard exemplify how hard work creates success and show the extent of Willy’s hubris through his stubborn refusals to job offers, and Simon Stimson’s negative outlook on life proves to be the most realistic of the town.
Now you know! That’s what it was like to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance,; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you. TO spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know-that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness (Wilder 101 Stimson)
Willy lives out his entire life chasing a reality that will never come to pass, and he dies delusional without ever realizing that he ruined his life; however, Emily has the chance to reflect on her life after death, and she learns the truth.