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Death of A Salesman The American Dream

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Death of A Salesman: The American Dream

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The American Dream means different things to different people. The American Dream can be associated with things such as wealth and success in business, living in a big house in an affluent neighborhood and driving a certain type of car. To achieve all that, a person may decide to do different things. In the short story ‘Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller, Willy Loman believed that that success could be equated to success in business, good looks and how much people like you.

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Willy Loman and his family lived in Brooklyn. He was a salesman, but he was failing at his job. The story begins with Willy arriving home from a failed sales trip. He was on the verge of being fired. His wife, Linda Loman tries to persuade him to ask his boss to give him a job in New York so that he doesn’t have to travel often. Linda comes across as a patient and encouraging wife who has been there for her husband through all the difficult times and this is one of them. Their two sons, Biff and Happy, have come home to visit their parents.

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Biff is the second son to Willy and Linda. Biff was a high school athlete and was quite popular and well liked. He had everything that his father believed was necessary for success, he had good looks, and everybody loved him. Willy had high hopes that his son would become something great. Biff, however, disappoints his father by refusing to go to summer school and therefore losing his shot at greatness. Willy had hoped that his son would be wealthy and famous.

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In the story, Biff tells his mother that his father Willy is a fake. Linda does not understand why Biff says this. Biff is still angry at his father because he found out that Willy was having an affair. He viewed his father’s action as a betrayal of their family and especially of his mother. Happy was Biff’s elder brother and Willy’s firstborn son. Happy has always been in his brother’s shadow. His parents paid less attention to him because of his brother’s success and fame overshadowed him. Willy’s neighbor Charley had a son named Ben. Willy thought that Ben would not be as successful as his sons because Ben was not as good looking and people did not like him much. He did not meet Willy’s requirements that would make him a successful person.

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Willy had many grand dreams for himself and his sons. When he begins to realize that he is not doing well in his job and might even be fired, he begins to grow delusional. In this case, his American Dream did not happen as he planned. He is already in debt and has no chance of recovery if he loses his job. He confides in his wife Linda that soon they will not be able to afford to service payments on all their expensive appliances and car. Willy expressed his regret at the fact that he did not move to Alaska with his brother Ben who ended up finding a diamond mine in Africa and becoming very rich. He felt like a failure. Linda reveals to her sons that Willy tried to commit suicide in an effort to make them more sympathetic to their father.

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Willy began to hallucinate. One night his sons take him out to dinner. Happy and Biff decide that they should start a business together so their family could stay close. Biff went to ask for a loan from his former boss, Bill Oliver. Oliver refuses. Willy tried to ask his boss Howard for a job in New York But fails as well.

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At the end of the story, Willy kills himself so that his family can get his life insurance money. His quest for the American dream drove him to the grave quite literally. The story illustrates that while Willy’s goals may have been valid, his way of pursuing them was not. Good looks and being well-liked is not enough for success. Qualities such as hard work, consistency, and resilience are an integral part of the American Dream.

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Work Cited

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Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman: Revised Edition. Penguin, 1996.

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