The American ‘Dream’ consists of a genuine and determined belief that in America all things are possible to all men, regardless of birth or wealth and if you work hard enough you will achieve anything. A man has to be resourceful enough so he can make his own luck and he has to imagine that if he tries hard, the sky is his limit. However in the Death of a Salesman, Miller argues that people have been misguided from the original dream. The original dream started, when the 18th and 19th immigrants came to America to have a chance of a better life.
Also many of the people who came to America wanted the opportunity to own their own land. Eventually the land ran out, cities developed and massive variations in wealth arose and this is when the American Dream, changed from reality onto a ‘dream’. The original ways of the American Dream were to be hard working, honest and have an ambition. Eventually this would lead onto success, wealth and power, but this soon developed into encouraging greed, selfish behaviour, as well as pride and rivalry between one another. Willy Loman liked the idea of being rich and successful and became caught up in this American Dream.
Willy wants to prove himself through successes as a salesman, but as he fails his own life destroys him. Willy was trying to achieve his lost self through success and when he thinks of his brother, Ben, he thinks of what he could have achieved. Miller stresses success and wealth through Ben and he does by making Ben repeat a lot, ‘When I was seventeen I walked into a jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich. ‘ “His name was Dave Singleman. And he was eighty-four years old, and he drummed business in thirty-one states…
” “I’ll never forget- and pick up the phone and call the buyers, and without ever leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realised that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ” “When he died, hundreds of salesman and buyers were at his funeral. ” One of the reasons why Willy got so caught in the American Dream was because when he was little he saw a salesman, Dave Singleman, who sold lots of items by phone and when he died everyone came to his funeral because he was so well respected.
Willy didn’t realise that Dave was greatly valued and that’s why he was so well respected and Willy’s failure as a businessman, was not to realise the demands of the business world. “I’m a New England man. I’m vital in New England. ” “Never leave your job until your sixty-two. ” Willy he is an insecure and knows he is unsuccessful businessman, and so he has to keep reassuring himself that he is a big shot and he is valued. “They don’t need me anymore. ” “I put thirty-four years into that firm… You can’t eat the orange and throw away the peel – a man is not a piece of fruit!
” In my opinion, Howard Wagner treats Willy harshly, because Willy has been very loyal to the business and has no reward for his length of service. What Willy doesn’t seem to realise is that results are all that matter and he can’t seem to get to grips with understanding that. At his funeral Charlie says a few words about being a salesman, because he knows that Willy’s view of success is extremely flawed. “He’s a man out there, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back- that’s like an earthquake. ”
Charlie also said, “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell. ” As Willy can’t sell anything he has got nothing and he loses his self-respect. Also Biff said, ” He has the wrong dreams. All the wrong dreams, and he never knew who he was. ” In the city there is power and business pressure and Willy can’t handle this pressure so he prefers the countryside, because there isn’t that much pressure. He is attracted to the wild, free and open countryside and Willy gets very claustrophobic. “The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows, windows and bricks.
” The lighting effects with the leaves and trees are very symbolic, as this helps to give Willy in taste of the countryside and it reminds him of what he is missing. Willy says, ‘that’s funny; I could have sworn I was driving that Chevy today. ” He is forgetting things, but Linda covers this up by saying, “Well, that’s nothing. Something must have reminded you. ” Willy’s loneliness, unfaithfulness to Linda and his insecurity, leads to his affair in Boston with another women. Willy buys new stockings for this woman in Boston and makes Linda mend her own, old ones.
But Linda cares for Willy a lot, and constantly tries to cover up for him and also tries to understand him. Also she believes money isn’t a measure of success and believes in a strong sense of community, as well as a strong bond with Willy. Willy breaks that bond when he cheats, lies to Linda and doesn’t let her speak when she wants to. Unfortunately, Happy is doomed to repeat Willy’s mistakes, with his attitude towards women. He has casual relationships and at the end of the day, he isn’t as honest as Biff.
A Death of a salesman is a play of relationships and Willy doesn’t look after Linda or care for her as much as he should have. On the other hand Linda has developed a barrier against Willy’s awkward behaviour and more than loves Willy, even when he has his daydreams and tempers. Also I think that Willy and Biff are both failures in contrast to Charley and Bernard’s success. Biff ‘flunked’ maths in high school, didn’t graduate and has no job, whereas Bernard got all the correct results he needed for college and is lawyer who argues cases in the Supreme Court.
Biff is a dollar a day man and he knows that he will never be more than that and he is being realistic. He knows that he belongs in the farmyard, doing manual labour instead of being a salesman and Willy is trying to force this upon him, because he trying to correct his own mistakes in Biff. Even though in the play Willy has flashbacks, I think what Miller is trying to tell the audience is that Willy is so desperate to justify his life that he lost the difference between past and present.
The music used in the Death of a Salesman was very clever, because some characters had different instruments and music used for them, in order for the audience to realise, in Willy’s daydreams, who it is. For Willy it was a flute and for Ben it was a very distinct type of music. The staging was clever too, because there were no walls between the rooms. So when it was the present day, people walked through a doorway and when it was in one of Willy’s ‘daydreamsi?? they ignored the walls.
Again this was to assist the audience in being aware of the characters being in real life and the ones in Willy’s daydreams. Most of the content of the Death of a Salesman is critical of modern American society; but this was not Arthur Miller’s sole purpose in writing it. Willy’s misjudgment of his failure in life is demonstrated in ‘Death of a Salesmani??. He feels as though he has failed because he has no fortune to show for it, in either his or his son’s names. What he has truly failed in is his family life, and his married life. That is the corruption of the true ‘American Dream’.