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...
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...chard Shime. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 645.
The American Dream. http://www.mines.edu/students/a/ahopf/stories/Amerdr2.html. 1 Apr 01.
Clurman, Harold. Willy Loman and the American Dream. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1958.
Garrison, Craig. The System and the American Dream. http://www.worksoflit.com/deathofasalesman/e/americandream/ 30 Mar 01.
Lee, James. Shattered Dream- The Delusion of Willy Loman. http://www.classicnote.com/classicalnotes/titles/salesman/essays/ 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.
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