Living or Dying with the American Dream

analytical Essay
1271 words
1271 words

Everyone wants to be successful. We all dream of having a decent job, a house, a car or two, good social connections and the respect of our peers. We dream of opportunity and freedom. In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, many characters are pursuing their own version of this dream, but they go about it in many different ways. Some see work and perseverance as necessities. Others think personal charm and popularity are essential in obtaining their dreams. We see the American Dream through the eyes of many different characters, giving us perspective of our own priorities and goals. Once we see the American dream from all of these angles we have to decide how we will interpret it, and how we will react.
Willy Loman is the main person we see seeking this dream. He spends his whole life trying to be successful. Willy makes many mistakes, but the first one is in how he defines the American Dream. He has this concept of a childish popularity contest. He thinks the goal of life is to be well liked and gain material success. Over and over again he tells his self and his sons that being “well-liked” is the way to be successful.
Many people claim that Willy Loman was corrupted by the “American Dream”. They say that Willy went crazy trying to prove that he could be successful. Juan Zhao, a literary critic, went as far as saying that Death of a Salesman is a “moving destruction of the whole myth” that the American Dream does or ever did work. However, the people who say this, like Willy, seem to believe in a distorted and contrasting view of the true American Dream (Zhao, 2010).
In order to avoid confusion the American Dream should be analyzed and defined. A recent poll done by Forbes magazine showed that twenty percent of America...

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.... He is telling us to focus on the things that matter and what we personally need to do to become what we want to become. In the end it is not what or who you know, but what have you become?

Works Cited

Bertoni, Steven. "Americans Most Commonly Define the American Dream in Terms of Opportunity, Freedom and Family." Forbes Oct. 2013: Web. 1 May 2014.
Carroll, Alan. "Top Ten Happiest Jobs and the American Dream." Web blog post. Surface Fragmants, 17 June 2012. Web. 3 May 2014.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin, 1996. Print.
"Professor Richard Layard on Happiness." , Flourishing Lives, Money, Happiness and Economics. Ed. Pete Fletcher. Center for Confidence and Well-Being, 2006. Web. 3 May 2014.
Zhao, Juan. "Corruption of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman." CSCANADA. Cross Cultural Communications, 2010. Web. 3 May 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how arthur miller's death of a salesman portrays the american dream through the eyes of many different characters, giving us perspective of our own priorities and goals.
  • Analyzes how willy loman is the main person we see seeking this dream. he makes many mistakes, but the first one is in how he defines the american dream.
  • Opines that many people claim that willy loman was corrupted by the "american dream". zhao said that death of a salesman is "moving destruction of the whole myth" that the american dream does or ever did work.
  • Argues that the american dream should be analyzed and defined in order to avoid confusion. forbes magazine polls show that 20 percent of americans define it as opportunity, freedom, family, and happiness.
  • Opines that happiness comes down to everyone trying to be happy. many people misinterpret what happiness means, like willy in death of a salesman.
  • Explains richard layard's book entitled happiness, in which he discussed the results of several tests. the children were asked how happy they were on a scale of one to ten.
  • Explains that children in the study were less happy because they compared their "gifts" to their peers and felt like they got the "short end of the stick." people brainwash themselves into believing they don't have everything that they want.
  • Analyzes how willy compares himself to his brother ben, who is "success incarnate". ben left for the jungle at age seventeen with absolutely nothing. the process involves immense risk and self-denial.
  • Compares willy to his father, an inventor who set out to provide for his family. he traveled to america and became a relatively wealthy man.
  • Compares the loman's neighbors, charley and his son bernard, who started out relatively poor and are not the most popular people. they have a good family relationship and have taken advantage of the opportunities life has given them.
  • Analyzes how willy ignores the importance of determination, honesty, and hard work in attaining the american dream.
  • Analyzes willy's desire to attain the american dream, but he tries to achieve it through charisma. he hopes that if his boys are popular and liked by others, they will definitely attain it.
  • Analyzes how willy's pursuit of immense popularity for his boys causes biff more harm than good.
  • Analyzes how willy clings to a fierce belief that anyone well liked can make it big, despite his evident failure to meet his life goals.
  • Analyzes how willy lies to himself when he kills himself, believing that biff will use the money from the life insurance to start a business. his naive perception of the american dream fails him and delusions lead him to take his own life.
  • Analyzes how miller wants us to connect to the characters and their dreams. he uses the "average man" to provide at least one that everyone can relate to.
  • Explains that americans most commonly define the american dream in terms of opportunity, freedom, and family.
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