The American Dream in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

The American Dream in Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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Centuries ago, Americans were fighting for their freedom from Britain. Then, the American dream was to have freedom. To American then, being free and having their own individual country was enough. Up until a few decades ago, African Americans were fighting to have equal rights. They thought this was all they needed and they would be truly happy. Somewhere over the course of time; happiness had a new meaning for all Americans. Now material possessions are what it takes to be happy. The American dream is to be rich.

A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry, and Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller, both address the American Dream. Both plays discuss the desire for wealth and how the desire may lead to one’s downfall. However, each play is very different in addressing issues such as race and feminism. A Raisin in the Sun and Death of a Salesman have the same major theme of the American Dream, but address other issues differently along the way. A Raisin in the Sun is about an African American family in Chicago. Living in the same old broken down house is Lena Younger, who is the mother to both Beneatha and Walter, who also live in the house. Walter is married to Ruth and is the father of Travis. As the play begins, the family is about to inherit an insurance check for 10,000 dollars. This money comes from the death of Lena’s husband. Each member of the family wants to do something different with that money. Lena wants to buy a bigger house in a nicer area, and Ruth agrees with her. Beneatha wants the money to go to tuition for medical school. Walter wants to invest the money in a liquor store, so he can own the store, and become successful and rich. He is tired of just being a cab driver. However, Lena inten...


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...e almost called Mr. Linder and made that deal with him when he found out that he lost the money, but his family was there to help him figure out that that would not be the right thing to do. On the other hand, Willy’s relationship with his family is what led him to suicide. The role of woman is also handled differently in the two plays, along with the role of age and race. The two plays had similar points, but were also quite different.


Works Cited

Cleage, Pearl. “ Black Issues Book Review”. Playright’s Choice 3 (1995): 20- 23.

Evans, Everett. “What’s Hot on Stage”. Houston Chronicle. 28 Oct 1994: Pgs 10- 12.

Laban, Linda. “Raisin in the Sun Raisin’s in the Rounder”. Boston Globe. 5 Apr 2001: pgs 8-11.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books, 1949.

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