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A Depiction of Three Ages in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken: Depiction of Three Ages

In his Explicator article, “Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken,’” William George suggests that the poem includes “three distinct ages” of the narrator and focuses on the choices that this person must make at the different stages of his life (230). George differentiates the primary speaker of the poem, what he calls the “middle-aged self,” from the younger and older versions, noting that the middle-aged version mocks the other two by taking a more objective stance towards his decision. The younger and older versions “are given to emotion, self-deception, and self-congratulation, and both face a decision which the middle-aged speaker sees with more objective eyes than do his younger and older selves” (230). George demonstrates that, while the middle-aged self is able to view his other selves objectively without delusion and self-aggrandizement, the younger and older selves are incapable of this kind of objectivity in their decision-making.

George’s analysis is broken into two parts; the first part is an analysis of the relationship between the middle-aged self and the younger self, while the second part is an analysis of the relationship between the middle-aged self and the older self. In the first part of the article, George suggests that the younger self is faced with choosing between two roads, paths that the middle-aged self understands are very similar; the younger self, however, refuses to accept their equal value and instead deludes himself with the idea of having chosen a less traveled path (230-31). In the second part of the article, George describes how the older self is faced with choosing between telling the truth about his decision as a youth or lying about it; while the middle-aged self fully recognizes that the choice of the past was not grand, the older self chooses to cover over this truth through deception and self-aggrandizement (231).

Willy Loman’s American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman’s American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Short Essay One

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman focuses on the American Dream, or at least Willie Loman’s version of it. *Willie is a salesman who is down on his luck. He “bought into” the belief in the American Dream, and much of the hardship in his life was a result. *Many people believe in the American Dream and its role in shaping people’s success. Willy could have been successful, but something went wrong. He raised his sons to believe in the American Dream, and neither of them turned out to be successful either.

By the time Willy got to be an old man, his life was in shambles. *One son, Biff, was a hopeless dreamer who wasn’t able to hold on to a job. He could have been successful through an athletic scholarship, but he blew the chance he had to go to school. Happy, the other son, had a job, but was basically all talk, just like Willy. Now near the end of his career as a salesman, Willy realizes his whole life was just a joke, and the hopes he placed in the American Dream were misguided. At the end of the play, his only hope is to leave something for his family, especially for Biff, by taking his own life and leaving his family the insurance money. Through his death, Willy thinks he can achieve success and fulfill his dream.

Arthur Miller provides us with a character who is both pathetic and tragic. Willy Loman spent his life chasing a false dream. His failure to live the “true” American Dream was what brought about his own downfall.**

Short Essay Two

In Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman’s warped view of the American Dream caused tragedy in his family because he stressed the importance of popularity over hard work and risk-taking over perserverence. *Willy grew up believing that being “well-liked” was important to becoming a success. He believed that being well-liked could help you charm teachers and open doors in business. *He is proud that the neighborhood boys flock around Biff and respond to Biff’s athletic abilities, and in the same breath scoffs at the nerdy Bernard, who is too focused on school and his studies to be popular. Even though Biff turns out to be a failure as an adult, Willy holds on to the hopes that a business man who Biff met years ago will offer him a terrific job if Biff can be his old likeable self and recapture the confidence and grace he had as a teenager.

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