Get help from the best in academic writing.

Myths of the American Dream Exposed in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Myths of the American Dream Exposed in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman, the lead character of Miller’s play, Death of a Salesman, believes in “the myths of the capitalistic society”(DiYanni 412). This essay will examine the impact of the capitalistic myths on Willy Lowman.

Willy believes in the myth that popularity and physical appearance are the keys that unlock the door to the “American Dream”. We are first introduced to the importance of popularity and physical appearance when Willy is speaking to his wife, Linda, about their son Biff. “Biff Loman is lost,” says Willy. “In the greatest country in the world, a young man with such personal attractiveness gets lost.” In this quote, not only is Willy confused about how Biff’s good looks can’t help him get a job, but also because his son can’t get a job in a country like America.

Willy believes in appearance, in phoniness, in popularity with those he regards as important in the capitalistic machine. An example of how Willy depends on popularity to help achieve the dream is seen when Willy is having a flashback in which he’s speaking to both Biff and Happy about having his own business. The boys ask their father if his business will be like their Uncle Charley’s. Willy responds by saying that he’ll be, “Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not- liked. He’s liked, but he’s not- well liked.”

The most significant example of Willy’s belief in the popularity myth also takes place in one of Willy’s flashbacks. Again, he is speaking to his sons about becoming successful. He tells them, “…the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets …

… middle of paper …

… slogans for his own beliefs: “Chevrolet, Linda, is the greatest car ever built.” But his blind faith cannot sustain him: “That goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car”.

Each day Willy must run faster and stretch his arms out further in his attempt to catch the dream. When he is too tired to run, Willy is spewed out of the capitalistic machine as a worn-out and useless part. Willy then gives all that he has remaining so that his son can collect the insurance money and thereby pay his entrance fee to the capitalistic machine. The same machine that destroyed Willy.

Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Compact Edition. McGraw Hill, 2000. 395-530.

Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman” in Literature, Reading, Reacting, Writing, Compact Fourth Edition. Harcourt, Inc. 2000.

Death of a Salesman and All My Sons as Optimistic Tragedies

Death of a Salesman and All My Sons as Optimistic Tragedies

This essay deals with Arthur Miller, and his uniqueness as a tragic playwright. The research question that this paper attempted to answer was, why were Miller’s plays different from many other tragedies. Two of Arthur Miller’s tragedies were used in this essay, Death of a Salesman and All My Sons. The thesis of this essay is, Arthur Miller deviates from the standard perception of tragedy in his plays, Death of a Salesman and All My Sons because unlike other tragedies, they are optimistic in that the main character causes the tragedy for what they perceive to be the greater good.

The body of this essay starts out with a discussion of tragedy, and the commonly viewed perception of it, one of pessimism. It goes into detail of several different definitions of tragedy, made by literary critics. The “tragic flaw” is discussed and proven to be a major part of a tragedy, especially Miller’s. Death of a Salesman is used to prove this statement. The idea that Miller’s plays are optimistic is discussed in great detail. Both plays are used to prove this concept, as well as essays written by literary critics with opinions on this topic. One of the major points in this essay is Miller’s use of love. Love is a dominant emotion throughout the tragedies. The important thing about the love is that it is one of the main reasons that the characters do what they do to cause the tragedy.

The conclusion of this essay enforces the idea that Arthur Miller’s plays are unique from other tragedies. It reinstates the thesis and the reason that it is true. The conclusion also summarizes the most important points of the essay and ends the paper tying everything together.


… middle of paper …

7. Carson, Neil. “A View from the Bridge and the Expansion of Vision.” Bloom, Harold, ed. Arthur Miller: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. (1987) p 94.

8. Hayman, Ronald. Arthur Miller. New York: Frederick Ungar Publiching Co. (1956); p 43.

9. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press (1958); p 133.

10. Hayman, Ronald. Arthur Miller. New York: Frederick Ungar Publiching Co. (1956); p 55.

11. Miller, Arthur. “Introduction to Collected Plays.” Weales, Gerald, ed. Death of a Salesman: Text and Criticism. New York: Penguin Books (1996); p163.

12. Miller, Arthur. Six Great Modern Plays: All My Sons. New York: Dell Publishing Co. (1956); p 420.

13. Gross, Barry. “All My Sons and the Larger Context.” Martine, James J., ed. Critical Essays on Arthur Miller. Boston: G. K. Hall

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.