Misguided American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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Misguided American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman deals with hopes and dreams gone wrong. This does not necessarily have to be the "American" dream as such, because all people share the same hopes and dreams, regardless of nationality. The underlying factor, and the inevitable truth is that we all have to dream, dreams are important for human existence. It is evident to the reader that for Willy, his ultimate dream was to follow in the footsteps of Uncle Ben and become a successful salesman. Unfortunately for Willy, most of his dreams are illusions, yet he is unable to come face to face with this fact. At the plays conclusion, Biff is susceptible to succumb to the fact that his father, Willy, did in fact have "all the wrong dreams", and the reader will agree that this is ultimately what lead to Willy's downfall.

Willy's false hopes and dreams are evident in the fact that he wants to be a mirror image of his brother Ben. "The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it!" Willy believes that Ben has the "ultimate life", and strives to follow in the dream of being a successful salesman. This brings forth the notion of Willy kidding himself, and not knowing any different. "The jungle is dark but full of diamonds." The jungle metaphor is continually bought to the reader's attention throughout the novel. Like Ben, Willy hopes to strike it rich in the business world of New England. Yet Willy never finds the diamonds (success), and he leaves life without fortune or fame. In many ways, the jungle also represents the American Dream ideal that Miller often criticized. It is the opinion of Willy that the job of a salesman is the most enjoyable of all jobs. "...And the smile on your face" gives the reader the notion that Willy is happy in his job, which Willy himself leads himself to believe. Evidently, this only turns out to be another illusion that Willy has created for himself. Nearing the novels conclusion, it is evident to the reader that Willy is unable to maintain this smile, and he is no longer happy in his job. Willy's illusions throughout the novel are also evident to the educated audience.
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