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The American Dream of Willy Loman

Willy Loman, the main character of the “Death of a Salesman”, is probably one of the most controversial characters of the play, especially in regard to his view of the American dream. The American dream traditionally implies the possibility of getting rich and successful if an individual works hard and is persistent in his efforts to achieve success, regardless of his initial opportunities and position in society. In actuality, Willy Loman sincerely believes in the American dream which practically becomes the goal of his entire life, but eventually, this dreams leads him to the greatest failure in his life since he proved to be unable to achieve success in spite of his efforts and hard work.
The American dream is very important for Willy Loman because his entire life is focused on the achievement of success. In this respect, the achievements of his brother produce a profound impression on the main character since, unlike Willy, Ben has already succeeded in his life and, even though he has already deceased, his success disturbs Willy. In fact, Willy feels envy because his brother succeeded, though he did not work along with Willy and preferred to go away, instead of working in the company. At the same time, it is Ben, who has actually made the American dream come true because, being on his own, he achieved the success relying only on his own forces, intelligence, abilities and will. In this respect, it should be said that Ben may be viewed as a classical example of an individual who, being deprived of any material wealth at the beginning of his career, gets rich in a very short period of time and, what is more, nobody assists him in his achievements. In stark contrast, Ben has to overcome all the problems he faced and achieve success without external support, since even his brother is of a little help.
The success of Ben is particularly depressing for Willy because he, as he believed, had consistently larger opportunities to make the American dream come true and, what is more, Willy sincerely believed that he did deserve the realization of this illusionary dream. Basically, Willy stands on the ground that the American dream is above the dream of a wealth, prosperity and respect, which he supposes to gain through the hard work for the company. This is why he has actually dedicated his entire life working for the company in an erroneous hope to get the final reward for his devotedness, hard work and loyalty to the company. But, instead, he gets nothing but a loss of his position in New York. Moreover, he has to move from New York since the company does not actually need him anymore and this is the end of his dream. His failure, which leads him to death, is an unexpected and undesirable awakening which Willy is unable to confront and accept. Even though he understands that his dreams about success and wealth have failed, he still refuses to accept the idea that the man, who did his best while working for the company, is not needed for the company anymore that naturally means that he has already reached his top position, which is apparently from the realization of his American dream.
Obviously, such a situation totally contradicts to Willy’s belief in the USA as the country of great opportunities. At the same time, he cannot agree with the fact that it was not actually the country or the company that have prevented him from the success, but it is also he, who has failed to achieve success and prosper in his own life. In fact, he had a choice at the beginning of his life and he could follow the example of his brother Ben, but Willy proved to be unable to face the challenges of the real life. Instead, he has preferred to live in the world of his illusion raving of his American dream. However, his American dream was just another, unrealizable illusion because his view of the American dream was quite shallow and simplistic. Obviously, his American dream lacked the adventurism Ben’s vision of the American dream had. Otherwise, Willy would be able to take bolder and riskier decisions.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that Willy’s American dream was totally ruined and his entire life was spoiled, but the problem was not in the lack of the hard work from the part of Willy. The problem was the high expectations of Willy and his inability to go beyond boundaries of a routine life to make his American dream come true.


Works cited:
Miller, A. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Classics, 2002.

 

 
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