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“Death of a Salesman,” Misinterpreting the Concept of the American Dream

The essence of human life consists in achieving something that others do not have, though most people are quite persistent in denying this fact. It is hard to argue with the conviction that striving to achieve more than the others gives hope which sustains life in a dreamer. This is why this striving cannot be considered harmful or destructive; on the contrary, a dream is something that every person should have, otherwise, there is no sense in living. However, this idea is not applicable when it comes to the obsession with a dream when the life of a dreamer turns into a constant pursuit of something he/she is never going to have. This was the case with Willey Loman from “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. Willy was a salesman who was obsessed with the American dream throughout his life and who never managed to achieve the desirable. Achieving the American dream at any cost is not worth it, because it rarely brings the results on which the dreamer counts; this dream destroys people’s lives, especially if they interpret it incorrectly. Willy Loman’s situation proves that the American dream is not worth trying to achieve, because it brings only sufferings to the dreamers and negatively affects the lives of people who surround them; in the case of Loman, this dream was even destructive since he saw its essence in material benefits and this did not let him use his talents and abilities to the full extent.

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To begin with, trying to attain the American dream is not worth it, because a failure to do so may become rather painful for a dreamer. Most of all, Willy was afraid to stay in his native town till the end of his life ringing up a zero. (1096) The American dream was the essence of his life and he felt miserable because he never managed to become the rich and famous person he thought he would become as he was younger. This resulted in his dissatisfaction with his present life, which made him envy those people who managed to attain his dream. One of such people was Ben, his brother, who got wealthy after his trip to Africa. Willy seems to have bad relations with his brother who never told him how exactly he became wealthy, being rather vague when he was asked about that. Willy’s dissatisfaction with his life led to his love affair as he was younger, which had almost ruined his family. It also led to his attempts to commit suicide several times; at the end of the play, Willy does kill himself by crashing his car intentionally. It seems that Willy could have been much happier if he was not obsessed with this dream. His life would not have had such a sad ending if he did not spend it in a pursuit that did not bring any results. Thus, a desire to attain the American dream is unworthy because it makes dreamers suffer and leads to disappointment with their life.

What’s more, the American dream is not worth trying to attain, because this trying influences the lives of people who surround the dreamer. In the case of Willy, these were his family members and his sons in particular. Willy belonged to those people who tried to realize his dreams through his children. This, for instance, takes place when a person who did not have a chance to visit music classes as a child tries to make musicians from his/her children. This often leads to frustrating results, as it did in Willy’s case. As his children were younger, Willy always admired his older son, Biff, who he believed to grow into a magnificent person. (1101) Biff was a great football player and had to live up to his father’s expectations; Willy thought that Biff could achieve his dream instead of him. At this, Willy almost completely ignored his younger son who, as he believed, had no talents and, correspondingly, no chance for realizing his American dream. In addition, Willy’s pursuing this dream ruined the life of his wife, Linda, who at the end of the play remained a widow only because her husband was not satisfied with his life. Therefore, trying to attain the American dream ruins the life of not only the dreamer but of other innocent people who surround him/her, which makes it unworthy to attain.

Finally, the American dream may be misleading. For example, Willy, just like several other people, believed that the American dream was all about material success. He did not realize that the real essence of the American dream is possessing liberty in which prosperity is founded. One can be wealthy without becoming a star and even without possessing uncountable sums of money. Willy’s mistake was that he accepted only the materialistic success of the American dream, forgetting about the fact that he had skills that could make him wealthy (he could build and repair houses). Opening his own business in this sphere could have made him much wealthier and happier than if he simply possessed the money which he never earned. Thus, the American dream is not worth achieving, because it often misleads people and makes them doubt their abilities.

Everything mentioned above testifies to the fact that it is not worth trying to achieve the American dream at any cost, because it brings only disappointments to dreamers and their close people, as well as misleads those who are obsessed with it. The American dream consists of altruism and spiritual values, rather than material welfare as such. In other words, it is more about spiritual prosperity. Willy Loman’s example proves that this dream is destructive for it ruined his own life and the lives of his family members. His situation was aggravated by the fact that he, like most other people, had a materialistic perception of this dream, which did not let him use his talents and abilities.

Works Cited

Gardner, Janet E., Lawn, Beverly, Ridl, Jack, and Schakel, Peter. Literature: A Portable Anthology. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 7). “Death of a Salesman,” Misinterpreting the Concept of the American Dream. https://studycorgi.com/death-of-a-salesman-misinterpreting-the-concept-of-the-american-dream/

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StudyCorgi. "“Death of a Salesman,” Misinterpreting the Concept of the American Dream." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/death-of-a-salesman-misinterpreting-the-concept-of-the-american-dream/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Death of a Salesman,” Misinterpreting the Concept of the American Dream." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/death-of-a-salesman-misinterpreting-the-concept-of-the-american-dream/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Death of a Salesman,” Misinterpreting the Concept of the American Dream'. 7 November.

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