Idea of Illusion vs. Reality in Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men

Idea of Illusion vs. Reality in Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men

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Compare and contrast the ways in which Miller and Steinbeck present the idea of Illusion vs. Reality in Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men

In Death of a Salesman and Of Mice and Men, Miller and Steinbeck present the idea of Illusion vs. Reality by characterising the main characters – Willy, George and Lennie – as so desperate to fulfil the American Dream, that they become trapped in a vicious cycle and fooled by the illusion of progress. Willy’s obsession with what could have been grows until it begins to poison his family, dragging them into the web of lies he has created, whereas in Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck focuses on how George becomes trapped and destined to blindly follow the other workers in their cycle of monotony due to Lennie’s death and the resulting loss of their dream. **Also linking into the American Dream, both writers focus on the hierarchical system which comes about as a result of those higher up trying to bring down those below them.**
In their texts, Steinbeck and Miller address the way in which dreams are able to consume the main characters, causing them to strive for an unreachable goal and to tragically fail in achieving their dreams as a result. For example, in Death of a Salesman, Miller portrays clearly that Willy's life is nothing more than an illusion that he has built around his dreams, which can be seen in his frequent lies to Linda about his earnings of ‘over five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston’, perpetuating the illusion of his dreams. Thus causing him to veer away from what he really wants in life, to work outdoors and be a family man. Miller does this to highlight the warping effect on reality dreams are able to have on people and the effect this has on socie...

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...the idea of the plot of land, originally opposed to the idea, saying that “Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.”, but later coming around to the idea and offering to ‘lend a hand’. This holds significance because it shows that hope is the main pivot around which the power of dreams is centred and without collective hope from those involved with the dream, it has no influence. Crooks is not completely convinced by the dream, however, as he has endured enough hardship and had enough dreams broken to realise when a dream will not be possible as he later retracts his offer: "’Member what I said about hoein’ and doin’ odd jobs?...Well, jus’ forget it”. A parallel is therefore drawn by Steinbeck between the ability of dreams to create an illusion and the idea of hope, which is central to the American Dream and its effect on Depression Era America.

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