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The Failure of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman

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America has long been known as a land of opportunity. Out of that thinking comes the "American Dream," the idea that anyone can ultimately achieve success, even if he or she began with nothing. In "The Death of a Salesman", Arthur Miller uses the characterization of Willy Loman to represent the failure of his ideal of the American Dream. 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, obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence of the past and predictions of the future, all contribute to his defeat in the end.

The unachievable part of Willy’s view of the American Dream is perfection. He has a picture perfect view in his mind of how everything should be: a good job with a high paying salary, a wonderful family with smart kids and a perfect housewife, being well liked, being happy, and having no problems at all. Unfortunately, because Willy has this perception of how life should be, anything that does not fit his vision turns out into a huge ordeal. His obsession with perfection is a reason for why, in reality, he did not have a happy family. By trying to make his family fit the image of the American Dream, he actually caused their unhappiness. Failing at this attempt of "perfecting" his family is just one example of Willy’s many mistakes. Due to the fact that he is a so-called perfectionist, accomplishment is never evident to Willy. Once he reaches any goal, he never sees the good in it; instead he only sees what he could have done better. “Perfection is just a figment of the imagination, an intangible illusion, just as the American Dream is in Willy’s mind.” (Nadi 2005)

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...lly’s mindset on perfection, his obsession with success, and his constant reminiscence of the past and predictions of the future, all contribute to his defeat in the end. He shows that an individual’s values are based on what society has established. Yet, as society changes, the values one have may not, causing conflict between the society and the individual.

Works Cited

Critical Analysis of "Death of a Salesman". 03 Jul 2006. eCheat.com 01 Dec 2007

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Nadi, Moahmed. Death of A Salesman: Willy An Idiot with A Dream. 2005.

http://www.literatureclassics.com/essays/705/

Miller, Arthur. Death of Salesman. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 9th

ed. Ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2005. 1556-1619.

"Willy Loman's American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman."

123HelpMe.com. 01 Dec 2007. .
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