The Dysfunctional American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

The Dysfunctional American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Length: 1222 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Dysfunctional American Dream in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

In the American society, it is thought that if you work hard, no matter what circumstances, you can become rich and powerful. You can overcome deep poverty to become the richest man alive. This superhuman absurdity is what is referred to as the "American Dream." Day after day, Americans struggle to achieve fame and prosperity, only to find failure and heartbreak. The American Dream in today's society is dead and is proven several times through plays, poetry, and essays.

The perfect example of the dysfunctional American Dream is that of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy innermost desires result in lies and extreme failure. James Lee says, "Arthur Miller's tragic drama is a probing portrait of the typical American psyche portraying an extreme craving for success and superior status in a world otherwise fruitless." In the business of sales there is room to either fail or succeed. Willy likes to think that if he's just a nice guy he can be the best salesman ever. He continuously lies to himself, as well as his family, about his status in the business world (Miller, 49). He believes that he's on the verge of success and it will come to him soon if he keeps working hard (Miller, 84). But in reality, the only kind of financial success is that of his brother Ben. In extreme contrast to the American Dream, Ben achieves quick money from a discovery in a foreign land (Miller, 67). James Lee points out:
"Ben is idealized by Willy since he fulfilled the genuine American Dream: to start out with nothing and eventually become rich through effort and hard work. Ironically, this wealth is achieved outside America sug...

... middle of paper ...

...chard Shime. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 645.


Works Cited

The American Dream. 1 Apr 01.
Clurman, Harold. Willy Loman and the American Dream. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1958.
Garrison, Craig. The System and the American Dream. 30 Mar 01.
Lee, James. Shattered Dream- The Delusion of Willy Loman. 30 Mar 01.
Lopez, Michael. One on One with Jordan. Sports Illustrated. May 00. 34.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press, 1949.
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Richard Cory. Elements of Literature. ed: Richard Shime. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 645.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Essays

- Many families suffer from dysfunctions. In the Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller, you have a dysfunctional family, Willy thinks he is an advanced salesmen getting cheated out of an amazing opportunity in New York, Linda believes her husband Willy is mentally sane and that he just has bad luck, Happy says he’s a salesmen when he has been keeping his real work hidden from his family, and Biff has been bouncing around from job to job down west. Willy, Linda, Biff, and Happy use self-deception as a means to mentally escape the reality of their lives....   [tags: dysfunctional familly, willy]

Strong Essays
1061 words (3 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- Enabling someone is helping them do something that isn’t healthy. Sometimes, enablers don’t even know they’re doing it, but instead of helping, they are hurting. Enabling can be something as simple as rewarding someone for bad behaviors. The person thinks it’s okay, and keeps doing this behavior. In Arthur Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, Linda Loman is this classic enabler. She indirectly causes the dysfunction in the family, because she supports the bad decisions Willy and her boys make, instead of doing the right thing and not supporting them....   [tags: Family, Dysfunctional family, Death of a Salesman]

Strong Essays
1295 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Arthur Miller 's Death Of A Salesman

- Although the parents in Arthur Miller 's play Death of a Salesman want their sons to be successful, their sons Biff and Happy struggle to communicate with them, which results in fights that creates further dysfunctional relationships in the Loman family. Success is crucial to the father Willy, who believes he is above other salesman, giving him the wrong idea of his position. When Willy saw his brother Ben as a success, jealousy swept over him. Willy is a pushy father who wants to show his children Biff and Happy that success is most important....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Family, Dysfunctional family]

Strong Essays
1309 words (3.7 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- “Death of a Salesman’s main character, Willy Loman, is an open book”, Wade Bradford states in his theatrical review of Arthur Miller 's play. It may be true that this is a tragedy about Willy Loman, a mediocre salesman for 34 years who refuses to accept reality. At 60, he is cast aside from society, his usefulness exhausted and as a result, Loman commits suicide. In reality, this is a story how the house of cards collapses if you constantly lie to yourself. From my perspective Willie Loman is not an open book....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, Life]

Strong Essays
763 words (2.2 pages)

Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller Essay

- In literature and in life, people endure events which are the effects from the relationships between a parent and their child. In Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller it is evident how the relationship between Willy and his sons creates the downfall of the dysfunctional Loman family. Miller depicts the possessiveness that exists in humans through Willy Loman. In the 1949 era to preserve a healthy household it was important for the father-son relationship to be strong. If conflicts were to arise in their relationship the entire family would collapse and fail....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Family, Son, Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
2078 words (5.9 pages)

Essay on Symbols Of Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller

- Death of a Salesman Symbols “In Discussion: Symbols of Death of a Salesman” “I don 't say he 's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He 's not the finest character that ever lived. But he 's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He 's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person,” Linda states regarding Willy Loman. Linda is Willy’s wife....   [tags: Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, Lee J. Cobb]

Strong Essays
1047 words (3 pages)

Dreams and Success in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essays

- Dreams and Success in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman       In Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, Miller probes the dream of Willy Lowman while making a statement about the dreams of American society. This essay will explore how each character of the play contributes to Willy's dream, success, and failure.             Willy is the aging salesman whose imagination is much larger than his sales ability. Willy's wife, Linda, stands by her husband even in his absence of realism. Biff and Happy follow in their father's fallacy of life....   [tags: Death Salesman essays Arthur Miller]

Strong Essays
1758 words (5 pages)

Miller's Values in Death Of A Salesman Essay

- Values and Attitudes of the Author The way fiction texts begin and end provides a clear indication of the dominant values and attitudes supported by the author Values and attitudes that the author supports are often reflected in their writing, whether it be in the themes that are involved in the story, or the way it begins and ends. The author adopts a particular point of view and uses that point of view throughout the story to influence and impact readers and viewers. This is most often done through effective use of characterisation....   [tags: Arthur Miller]

Free Essays
1873 words (5.4 pages)

Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman Essays

- ... Saying he is very well liked in Hartford but then says he is ignored and unnoticed most of the time. This shows that he frequently uses self-deception to deceive himself about his success. The truth about his life however is close by and this drives him insane. Linda the wife and mother of the Loman house is no better than her husband. She likes to create illusions that their life is good and that she is content with it. We all could tell this isn’t the case. She often feeds willy’s self-deception....   [tags: play analysis]

Strong Essays
964 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Pursuit Of The American Dream In Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller

- There is something magical and sometimes overpowering to the majority of mankind: It is the thing that allows people to live in mansion's with helipad's as well as underground society forced to live in the many tunnels and passageways under New York City and to beg for their meals. Although this is definitely the extreme that I have described. It is sometimes indescribably cruel and other times very gracious. This thing that I write about is the American system. In Arthur Miller's moving and powerful play, "Death of a Salesman", Miller uses many character to contrast the difference between success and failure within the system....   [tags: Death of a Salesman Essays]

Free Essays
1891 words (5.4 pages)