The American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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The struggle for financial security and success has always been prominent in the American culture. The idea of the American dream captures the hearts of so many, yet leaves almost all of them enslaved in the endless economic struggle to achieve high status, wealth, and a house with a white picket fence. In Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman, we see how difficult it is for Willy Loman and his sons to achieve this so called American dream. In Lorraine Hansberry's, A Raisin in the Sun, she examines an African-American family's struggle to break out of the poverty that is preventing them from achieving some sort of financial stability, or in other words the American dream. Both plays explore the desire for wealth, driving forces that encourage the continued struggle for dreams, and how those dreams can lead to the patriarchal figure’s downfall. However, the plays contain minor differences, which have a common underlying factor, that leads A Raisin in the Sun to have a much more positive outcome than Death of a Salesman. We know that both of our protagonist’s dreams involve wealth, which is the basis for almost all elements of the standard American dream, but what is it in particular that Walter and Willy are striving for? For Walter, the American dream involves becoming a successful business entrepreneur. This dream relies heavily on the idea of wealth, because Walter is both in need of the money to fund his liquor store venture, but also because with the profits of his venture he will be able to support his family on his own. The exchange between Mamma and Walter “Oh—so now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money. I guess the world really do change . . . No—it was always money, Mama. We j... ... middle of paper ... ...ld like both Walter and Willy seem to think that it is. Rather they both show that striving towards wealth and the American dream leads to the downfall of their protagonists. They have similarity, but whereas Miller shows the final and absolute downfall of Willy though his suicide, Hansberry allows a redemption for Walter. She allows the family to be a saving grace that can pull him back from the edge. Regardless of the ending, both authors successfully wrote a play that makes us question the validity of this so called “American Dream” by displaying the desire for wealth, the driving forces behind that dream, and the ultimate downfall that can be a consequence of having an unrealistic dream. Work Cited Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 10th ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. 7th ed. New York: Penguin Group, 19
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