Illusion Verses Reality in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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Illusion Verses Reality in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller "Death of A Salesman," by Arthur Miller, is a play that tells the story of a traveling salesman, Willy Loman, who encounters frustration and failure as he reflects on and experiences his own life. Willy's quest for the American Dream leads to his failure because throughout his life, he pursues the illusion of the American Dream and not the reality of it. His mindset on perfection, his obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence of the past and foretelling of the future, all contribute to his defeat in the end. The reality of the American Dream is that people are capable of succeeding. Success, though, requires one to work hard and be dedicated to both his/her professional life and family life. Yet, the illusion of the Dream is that attaining material prosperity defines success. Failing to acknowledge the importance of hard work in achieving the American Dream is another aspect of the illusion. By ignoring the present, Willy fails to deal with reality. He has a tendency of living in the past and thinking of the future. He always thinks that if he had done something differently then this could have happened, or things will get better as time passes. His habit of distorting the past, never allows Willy to realize what is going on right then and there in the present. At one time, when Willy goes off down memory lane, he "says" to Biff and Happy, "America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys?the finest people?there?ll be open sesame for all of us, ?cause one thing boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street?and the cops protect it like their own" (31). Willy makes this distortion of the pa... ... middle of paper ... ...ind. Willy Loman portrays a "common man", who lives a life that is purely an illusion. Although Willy has good intentions, his tragic flaw is that he focuses only on the appearance of the American Dream and never on the reality, the work ethic, or how to achieve it. Willy brings about his own downfall, his defeat, because he tries to pursue this "superficial" idea. Miller includes this theme of the American Dream in his social criticism in an attempt to portray the deviation in the values of society. For instance, materialism and technological advances, causes the American Dream to change as times changes. The salesman is a position that has declining importance at the time. He shows that an individual?s values are based on what society has established. Yet, as society changes, the values one has may not, causing conflict between the society and the individual.

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