The American Nightmare: Is Death of a Salesman a stanch critique of the American, capitalist dream? Essay

In some ways, Death of a Salesman is a harsh review of the American Dream, nevertheless, in other methods, it seems to be promoting the idea. In the past, before the play was set, the American Dream used to be a pledge of a land of liberty with equality and chances for everyone, however by 1900, this rosy and pleasant idea had changed. The Dream included throughout the play, set in the 1940s, is, in reality, a darker seeming dream of both monetary and social success arising from very little effort.

It declares that if you wealthy, you can purchase anything you want: popularity, success or perhaps like. However, as this play shows, it is fragile and can collapse easily.

The main way in which Arthur Miller utilizes the play to put across the American Dream and its impacts is through the way in which it governs the lives of the Loman family, especially Willy. Willy could in truth be thought about to be consumed with the Dream.

For instance, he is continually speaking with Ben, the only member of the Loman family who ever had ‘that unique something’ needed to achieve it. This ‘unique something’ could possibly be the truth that he is a ruthless manager who does not care about the sensations or viewpoints of others and just actually appreciates making money. For example, he never in fact cared about his family– just whether they were earning a great deal of cash. Rather of applauding or encouraging Biff when he succeeds in getting sponsorship for three various universities, Ben simply makes him look silly in front of his household. He challenges him to a battle and then while he is distracted, knocks him to the flooring commenting:

BEN: Never fight fair with a complete stranger, young boy.

This shows that Ben has little regard for Biff’s feelings and is more obsessed with the American Dream than anything else, consisting of the important things that most people (even Willy himself) desire most from life: the regard and assistance of their families and friends.

The reality that Willy speak with Ben would appear typical and not indicate any fascination with the American Dream on Willy’s part. However the reality that Ben is dead and Willy only pictures his existence proves that Willy is consumed with the dream if he feels he has to revive figures from the past to make it more genuine for himself. This occurs because Willy has actually discovered Ben’s success and he is desperate for advice on how to make himself as successful as his older sibling. Willy’s primary goal in life is to be liked by all; to prosper in a manner in which he can not; to leave his mark upon the world, he wants to die the death of a salesman:

WILLY: He passed away the death of a Salesperson … numerous salespersons and buyers were at his funeral.

He has brought his boys up believing this too, and this ends up being obvious as they mature, for instance Delighted’s belief that he will impress Letta more by pretending to be a high earning Champagne seller than himself:

HAPPY: Why don’t you bring her– excuse me, miss out on, do you mind? I sell champagne, and I ‘d like you to try my brand. Bring her a champagne, Stanley.

The tone of this recommends that Delighted feels more positive than normal playing the role of someone as effective as a champagne seller. He feels that he can attain anything because role. His self-confidence clearly connects to Letta, who warms to him instantly. It is not likely that if Happy playing himself, a less extremely paid shipping clerk, had actually approached her, she would have consented to see him again.

Willy thinks that money causes appeal, which causes success, which results in more cash:

WILLY: Can you think of that greatness with twenty thousand dollars in his pocket!

He does not appear to realise that he can not actually enter this circle of presence due to the fact that he has neither money, success nor appeal. However he does invest his whole life boasting about how brilliant and effective he is, although he quite certainly is not. Willy has actually always pushed his kids throughout their lives to be successful and popular, however maybe this continuous pressure, from someone who was really the reverse of what they were being encouraged to be, puzzled them:

BIFF: I’m not a leader of guys, Willy, and neither are you.

After all, they had actually always admired him as being fantastic during their youth, then he tells them to do something that they have got utilized to him not being and possibly they do not know what to consider their dad any longer. He attempts as difficult as he can to bring them up well, nevertheless he stops working, by telling them that they were brilliant when maybe they were not as great as they thought:

WILLY: That’s why I thank Almighty God you’re both developed like Adonises.

More evidence that Willy’s life is governed by the American Dream is the method which he prefers design to compound. For example the instance throughout his kids’ youth when he had actually returned from a trip and presented them with a punching bag:

WILLY: It’s got Gene Tunney’s signature on it!

This shows that Willy thinks it makes the punching bag much more remarkable to other punching bags since it bears the pen marks that are the signature of a famous person on it, which is certainly incorrect. Another example of Willy preferring style to compound is that he chooses Biff’s appeal to Bernard’s intelligence and academic research studies:

WILLY: … Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’ understand, but when he gets out in business world, y’ understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him. … Resemble and you will never desire.

Nevertheless Bernard does wind up becoming highly effective, for that reason showing Willy’s concepts about appeal and success incorrect.

Linda is also impacted by the dream, primarily due to Willy’s obsession with it. She understands in time that Willy is kept passing his dreams, and he dependence of his family on him, and she supports him throughout everything, never leaving him no matter what he puts her through and she matches him and informs him how excellent he is:

LINDA: He works for a company for 36 years … opens unheard-of territories … and now in his old age they take his income away.

Linda has actually lived the headache side of the ‘Dream’. Nevertheless she declines to let it affect her. This is due to the fact that the truth that she both wishes to keep her household pleased and together, and also she is terrified of the possibility of surviving on her own without Willy– she would have even less cash than she does now and she would be most lonely. She has actually invested her whole life with Willy and the idea of anything different appears terrifying to her. This is since she is terrified of change.

In some ways, the harsh method which Miller portrays the dream is fair. It has, if not in all methods then a minimum of in some, turned into more of a nightmare than a dream. The apparent example from the play to support this is that things grew so bad, The Dream caused Willy to take his own life. He obviously took a thorough (or so he thought) take a look at his own life and understood that it fell a long method short of the ambitions he had been living by throughout his life:

WILLY: Ben, nothing’s exercising. I don’t understand what to do.

To him, it appears that he has let everyone else down by not fulfilling the American Dream, earning money, success and regard. He can not pay for to supply his family with things such as Howard’s wire recorder and he feels guilty both about this and about his affair. It would seem that the American Dream has clouded his vision, maybe preying on his mind so routinely and persistently that it drives him towards madness when he can not comprehend that there is any option aside from suicide. Alternatively, Willy’s suicide may be a way of living the Dream– both for him and for Biff. After all (according to him) Biff would be far more successful with the cash from Willy’s life insurance coverage behind him. Willy is also motivated to dedicate suicide by Ben, among the few people whom he could (in such a way) speak to:

WILLY: … When the mail comes he’ll lead Bernard once again!

BEN: An ideal proposition all round.

Another bad element of the dream is that the incorrect hopes it creates are possibly dangerous due to the fact that they cause anxiety. Willy’s desperation to succeed brought on by the Dream, leads him to make a fool out of himself by begging for his task back and speaking with himself in public. He feels he needed to speak to himself (or, as he sees it, to Ben) due to the fact that he has no one else to speak to about his failure in life. He can not confide his sensations in Linda, as he did not want to concern her. Neither could he talk to Biff or Pleased, as they both think that he is ridiculous:

HAPPY: Something’s– happened to him. He– speak with himself.

Willy had no other genuine buddies, anyone else he could have spoken to about his problems were all successful enough to find Willy’s scenario amusing, and perhaps look down on him forever, diminishing his much sought-after appeal. Likewise, the Dream has a bad result when it brakes a number of the few relationship bonds within the Loman family. It occurred at the point in the play when Biff manages to translucent Willy’s claims of luster: when he finds the affair:

BIFF: Don’t touch me, you– phony!

Biff becomes angry and yells at his father, due to the fact that he has had to go through the uncomfortable experience of questioning his entire life including Willy’s success and his love for Biff’s mother:

BIFF: You– you offered her Mom’s stockings!

Linda feels incredibly intensified by the reality that Biff had actually shouted at her darling partner– she feels angry at Biff, and triggers a major family argument by shouting at Biff. She is so upset because she refuses to admit that Willy is not quite the great male that she has actually been telling herself he is, for the past 36 years. If Willy did not feel that he needed to pretend to be successful, Biff might not have been made to feel so betrayed when he finds Willy’s failure. Without Willy’s fixation with the American Dream, the breaking of barely current family bonds might have been prevented.

However, there are methods which the American Dream has actually not altered into a hideous beast of disaster. For example, it is the Dream itself that keeps Willy going throughout thirty-six years of relatively not successful work, in the hope that one-day he will achieve his ultimate objective. The American Dream provides him the drive to continue with both life and work even when he understands he is ‘in a race with the junkyard’.

The Dream is also good in the method it offers Willy some idea about how to try bring up his kids, otherwise they might have matured with less ambition and less factor to live. Likewise, the Dream enhances the Loman household relationships, specifically during the boys’ childhood. For example, Linda falls more in love with Willy everyday; neither Willy nor Linda will leave each other ’til death do them part’ which is a strong, hard-to-come-by relationship. This love however is more doubtful than it may seem. Willy was drives and is far from his household for weeks at a time and due to his solitude, he has an affair:

WILLY: I was horrible lonesome.

Furthermore, The Female highlighted Willy’s more egotistical side:

THE FEMALE: I chose you

Willy’s aim in life is that people ought to notice him, and The Lady made him feel as though he was pleasing the Dream in a manner that he can not with Linda. After all, he would have proposed to her– therefore meaning that he had picked her, not vice-versa. The Woman made him feel extremely needed– not ‘lonely’ at all.

Yet, throughout their youth, Biff and Pleased both feel really happy with their dad, they see him as a good example most exceptional and they would do anything for him:

HAPPY: We’ll bring your bags, Pop!

Arthur Miller’s usage of lighting, music and phase instructions in the play can contribute to the feeling of the American Dream. For instance the set on which the play is performed is very easy and contains very little mess. This might suggest that Miller is attempting to make the play more about the events surrounding Willy and his search for meaning, rather than the economy and the rest if individuals around him. It could likewise symbolise the Loman Family’s absence of material valuables. Random looks of Ben, the flute music and The Female, could recommend the truth that, in Willy’s mind, time is not really an aspect. The only distinction he feels in between the past and the present is that in today he can touch, taste and control some things, whereas, in the past, he has no control at all and can only helplessly view what occurs to him and those around him. Making use of music is mainly to set the state of mind. In the opening stage direction ‘a melody is heard, played upon a flute.

It is little and fine, informing of yard and trees and the horizon’ is utilized to express a feeling instead of a place. It is the sensation of the American, Capitalist Dream that the flute is trying to make clear; through its connection to Willy’s roaming, flute-seller dad, the music recreates the pioneering spirit to move into unidentified countryside and build a living there from nothing in a land of flexibility. The flute just seems to play when Willy is imagining a better life in the past. Possibly this is because the flute is and instrument particularly connected with nostalgia. This could possibly be a reference to Willy’s life before he became haunted by the American Dream; the times when he took a trip into unknown towns with his father, selling flutes. These were happier times for Willy, as he feels more comfy in open areas with numerous air distributing, and it is reasonable that he might review them fondly.

This scene of liberty is completely different from the setting of the play– a claustrophobic assortment of over-built apartment houses with every available tree cut down for structure and fire wood, and not a blade of turf to be seen:

LINDA: Things can’t grow out there. There is no light.

Light, too is utilized to develop feeling. For instance, the apartments are surrounded by ‘an angry glow of orange’. This represents the anger of everybody in the city who are not as effective as they would like; who are denied of promise; who, like Biff and Willy, are frustrated about their way of living.

The audience’s reaction to the Dream is nearly one of horror– it is relatively distressing to have a central character in any play, film or television program to be suddenly exterminated. The title of the play informs us that Willy is going to pass away, so any minor optimism which may attempt to infiltrate the plot is undercut by the grim knowledge that he will, sooner or later, be ruined. The audience recognises the truth that the Dream is damaging the Loman household. They can see the worse parts of Willy’s dream the minute that the play begins– when Willy drags himself exhaustedly through the front door in the middle of the night mumbling about cheese. This first impression sticks around throughout the play, in some way overriding the parts of the Dream that are actually good.

The play uses numerous phases associated with the stereotyped American, such as ‘Gee, Pop!’, which assist to portray and show the American Dream. The play would be somehow irrelevant if individuals speaking in, for example, strong Scottish accents performed it. The play does promote stereotyping. It is not likely that everyone living in America at the time the play was set killed themselves over not fulfilling their own dreams, and those of their families.

Nevertheless, searching for the Dream and satisfying it is very essential to Willy. He feels he must provide for his family, be an excellent role model and hubby, and maybe to live up to the standards of his own role model– Ben. Likewise, he may be trying to rebel against his own bad up bringing. His Dad leaves him as a kid in order to persue wealth, Willy may feel strong pangs of dislike, potentially even hatred for his dad. Therefore, he would want to do everything he can to be the complete opposite of his dad, for instance living in a city when he actually enjoyed the open area.

To conclude, I think that, although the American Dream does have some good points along with the bad ones, there are more of the bad ones. After all, it was the Dream that caused an innocent guy to lose his life. For that reason, I do not think that Death of a Salesman is an especially hash critique of the American Dream.

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