How Is The "American Dream" Represented In The Character Of Willy Loman In "The Death Of A Salesman"?


4 Answers

Uzair Ahmed Profile
Uzair Ahmed answered
The essence of Arthur Miller's "The Death of a Salesman", is in a character, who, in the conquest of happiness, voyages through whole of his life but in the end finds himself "worth more dead than alive". He passes every speed breaker on the road of his life in hope to get what has been promised by the great "American Dream". Willy Loman, rather "Low-Man", believes wholeheartedly in what he considers the promise of the American Dream—that a "well liked" and "personally attractive" man in business will indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. Oddly, his fixation with the superficial qualities of attractiveness and likeability is at odds with a more gritty, more rewarding understanding of the American Dream that identifies hard work without complaint as the key to success. Willy's interpretation of likeability is superficial—he childishly dislikes Bernard because he considers Bernard a nerd. Willy's blind faith in his stunted version of the American Dream leads to his rapid psychological decline when he is unable to accept the disparity between the Dream and his own life. In this way we can say that the concept of the American Dreams forms the very basis of Loman's character.
Mark Westbrook Profile
Mark Westbrook answered
Arthur Miller's most loved play (but not the most performed because that is The Crucible) is called The Death of a Salesman. Its conceit is to look at the American Dream, something that Miller was fascinated with. The character of Willy Loman is a hard working American, who a wife and a nice house and two good kids, he is living the American Dream that anyone can make it.

However, this is not really the case and Willy Loman's character and the plot of the play show us what it is really behind the American Dream. Willy is having an affair, when his son finds out it nearly kills him, but this shows the sleaze behind the dream of wife, kids, house and car.

Also, no matter how hard he works, how well he sticks to his principles, he is in the end, sent off the glue factory (metaphorically) because he no longer fits the needs of the company, he has become surplus to requirement.

The American Dream is a coy, friendly, euphemism for Capitalism and the first casualty of Communism is the individual.
Bil Nutt Profile
Bil Nutt answered
To expand just a bit on what Epictetus wrote: Willy Loman has bought into the idea of an American Dream. He thinks that if you're well-liked and respected by others, everything good will come to you. He's also been seduced by the memory of his late brother Ben who had tales of being an adventurer overseas. ("When I was 17, I walked into the jungle. When I walked out, I was 21. And by God, I was RICH!").

However, WIlly has lost his moral compass. He has an ongoing affair with a woman on the road. He overlooks lies and indiscretions, on his part and on the part of his two sons. Too late, he realizes that thinks will not be given to him, just because of what he's done in the past.

It's a powerful and poignant work, and I once had the privilege of playing Ben in a production. My wife, the lovely Debbie Lockwood, was outstanding as Linda Loman, Willy's wife.
Rajesh Shri Profile
Rajesh Shri answered
'The Death of a Salesman' is a very popular play that was first staged in 1949. The Arthur Miller play is about a salesman, who makes the most of everything within reach, to achieve the success he yearns for. The central character of Willy Loman, the salesman, truly highlights the 'American dream' of assimilating wealth and success without any regard for principles.

The central character is a salesman of over sixty years of age and has an undiluted passion to be recognized and accepted by society. He has no qualms in living a life with no principles or regard for the feelings of others, beyond himself and his family. His selfish attitude that keeps him focused on the requirements of his family, wife and sons, is justified in the stance that he has them wanting for nothing. The typical American that he is, he uses all charm and resources to win over friends. A popular father, husband and friend, Willy Loman, silently suffers neurosis.

However, this tragic occurrence is given a twist with his focus on insurance and the upkeep of his family and home, after his death. 'The Death of a Salesman' through dialogue and scene, brings out the true American nature and craving for name and fame and security.

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