In what ways does Arthur Miller present the failure of the American Dream?

Essay by benedictbridgeHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2006

download word file, 6 pages 5.0

Arthur Miller's main character is a failure: Willy Loman is eventually worth more dead than alive, and 'nobody's worth nothing dead'. All his life, he strives for the American dream - a good career, a loving wife, a house with a white picket fence. All his life he fails, either not achieving or only achieving in part, a shadowed mockery of his aspirations. He has all the trappings of success, but they are meaningless. Miller gives Willy the possessions held desirable by his intended audience, but the fridge doesn't work, the car is often broken, and the stockings, such a sign of status, go to his mistress, whilst his wife has to mend hers. Willy only finally ends his house after his death.

Miller wrote Death of a salesman as a satire on the American dream, trying to show how hard it was for the ordinary worker to achieve it.

Written in 1940, at a time of massive unemployment, it struck a chord in the hearts of workers everywhere, workers who were striving for a paradise that only a few would obtain.

However, Miller's view of the American dream is not all bleak. Yes, his protagonists fail to achieve their aims, but this is not due to the American Dream itself. Rather, the dream is all that sustains them in their seemingly pointless lives - the hope that someday, everything will be alright.

Throughout the play, Willy is offered opportunities to grasp his dream - Ben first offers to take him to Alaska (where his fortune would have been found) then offers him timberland (where he would have been comfortable) Willy holds to most of the values of the American dream throughout his life -independence and optimism. Despite his poverty, he will not accept a job under someone he...