Death of a Salesman - Problems with the American Dream Essay

Death of a Salesman - Problems with the American Dream Essay

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Death of a Salesman - Problems with the American Dream


What specific ills does Miller diagnose in the America Dream? Discuss with reference to “Death of a Salesman”.

The American Dream is an idea that originated from the Pilgrim Fathers and has remained in the American society. It is the belief that America is the land of opportunity where everyone can be “great”. The word “dream” is in fact probably the best way to describe the problems that Arthur Miller can see in this belief. The word “dream” can suggest something wonderful to look forward to achieving, or, it may imply that something is only a dream, something that is impossible to achieve. We can see Miller believes “dream” to mean the latter of these interpretations when we see the character Howard in Death of a Salesman. It is implied through the way that he disregards Willy’s past loyalty to his company, that he has only achieved his dream of success through moral compromises, and therefore, that few achieve the dream without doing this as well.

The American society however, seems to support the first definition of the word “dream”. They have certain claims to self-perfection that are absent in a large part of the world: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, and what I assume you shall assume”, Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. Others tend to accept far greater, that conditions of life are hostile to man’s pretensions. It is thought that if they live by this dream, that there is a natural order in favour of them ...

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