The False Hope of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman Essay
Zachary Moore Professor Lindquist English 102 2 April 2013 The False Hope of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman The American Dream is something every American family strives to achieve some families push too hard to get to the place where they feel that they have achieved this dream; this is the case in the life of the Lomen family. The Lomen’s are the typical American family in the 1940’s. Willy and his wife Linda are a middle class family with two sons named Biff and Happy. Willy is an ageing traveling salesman that is struggling to accept the fact that he is not as successful as he would like to be.
His sons have also not lived up to the standers of Willy’s dreams either. In Willy’s eyes to attain the American Dream you have to be well liked, have a nice house, make lots of money and have a successful family. He always dreams of having all of these things but has never came close to achieving them. The fact that he has lived his whole life trying to accomplish this false hope of the American Dream is what leads to his downfall in life. The goals and standards he set for him and his family were out of reach. The American Dream is something that is not attainable for him or his family.
The American Dream is to have the freedom to succeed in life it is not measured by the amount of things you have or how well like you are. Willy set unrealistic goals in life for himself and his family thus giving him the false hope of achieving the American Dream. The false hope of the American Dream leads to the demise of Willy because of his ideas for reaching this dream were deeply rooted in pride, abandonment and betrayal. Willy was a very prideful man in all aspects of his life he took pride in his job and his sons.
Though the pride was almost always fabricated in his head it was always there and he displayed it everywhere and in almost everything he did. This pride was not a reality for the most part the Lomen family struggled to pay bills on time and Willy took loans that he knew he would not be able to pay back. Willy says “They don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England. ” He does this to make himself seem like he is need and a big part of the business but he cannot even sale enough product to pay his bills (Miller 24).
When Willy is not making any money his friend Charley offers him a job but he looks at himself as being more superior to his friend and takes it as an insult but Charley is also the man that Willy goes to every week to take out a loan that he knows he will not be able to pay back. Even then Willy is so prideful he still want take the job offer. Also in act one he goes on to boast about how well liked he is and how he has so many friends in New England. This time he is talking to his sons and they believe everything he has to say.
This gives them that false hope that their father is a great man and does some of the best work but in the end the truth comes out and they see what their father really was. Willy was just a man that was pasted his prime but did not have enough humility to face that he was not living the dream that he desired so much. He let his pride get in the way of his work and it not only affected him but his whole family. Having people like you and being superior to others is just part of Willy’s twisted goal of the American Dream that he will never achieve.
There are many things that happened in the play that leads the Lomen family to be the way they are one of the big things that happened is abandonment. Willy was abandoned by his brother and his farther at a young age leaving him with many questions about who he was. This would ultimately lead to many problems and the down fall of the family. There are a few time where Willy almost begs his brother to tell him and his sons about his father. Willy longs so much to learn about his father because there is an empty feeling that he tries to replace with the dream of all the things he longs for in life.
Linda sees what her husband is going through with his fear of abandonment so she begs her sons to not turn on their father but to look past his flaws. She says “I’m—I’m ashamed to. How can I mention it to him? Every day I go down and take away that little rubber pipe. But when he comes home, I put it back where it was. How can I insult him that way? I don’t know what to do. I live from day to day boys. I tell you, I know every thought in his mind. It sounds so old-fashioned and silly, but I tell you he’s put his whole life into you and you’ve turned your backs on him.
Biff, I swear to God! Biff, his life is in your hands! ” (Miller 672). Linda thinks that if Willy feels that his sons have turned their backs on their father that he will resort to suicide. Willy also struggles with betrayal throughout the play weather he is being betrayed by his own sons or his boss of so many years. The line of betrayal runs deep through the play Death of a Salesman. Willy feels that Biff is betraying him by not going into the business world with him and his brother. Willy feels that is the only way to get success is going into sales and Biff took off and went out west.
Willy betrays Biff when he is caught by his son in act one having an affair with another women when he shows up unexpected to visited his father. Willy tries to tell Biff that nothing was happening but Biff had already seen it all. Biff in some ways betrayed his mother by not telling her about the affair and what he had seen. Willy feels betrayed by his own boss when he is fired because there is no room for him to work a desk job. Willy is appalled at this but Charley tells him “Willy, when’re you gonna realize that them things don’t mean anything?
You named him Howard, but you can’t sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that. ” (Miller 366). The most ironic thing about the whole play is that in the end Willy betrayed everyone by taking his own life. He finally saw that this dream that he had been holding on to for so long was never going to come true and he could not handle it anymore and did what he had been thinking about doing for some time and took his life.
The American Dream is to live life to the fullest and be all you can be Willy Loman and his family took this so called dream and twisted it into something that it is not and nor will ever be. The different struggles that this family faced throughout their everyday lives led them to the tragic ending. Mostly Willy but along with the rest of the family they all faced things that happened in the past the shaped their future mostly in a bad way. Death of a Salesman gave false hope of this dream that will never come true.
Willy Loman tried to achieve something that is out of reach and it ended up costing him his life and his family. The Loman family and especially Willy got in their own way of living the American Dream by being so prideful. They lived in a state of fear of abandonment and betrayal witch would not let them succeed in living their lives to the fullest. Work Cited Bloom, Harold. American Dream. Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2009. 47. eBook Collection. Web. 1 April 2013. Bloom, Harold. Arthur Miller. Chelsea House, 2000. 2. eBook Collection. Web. 1 April 2013. Kirszner, Laurie G. , Stephen R. Mandell, eds. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013. Print. Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Kirszner and Mandell 1449-1517. Roberts, James Lamar. Death of a Salesman. Cliffs Notes, 1964. 45. eBook Collection. Web. 1 April 2013. Otten, Terry. “Death of a Salesman. ” The Temptation of Innocence in the Dramas of Arthur Miller. University of Missouri Press, 2002. 263. eBook Collection. Web. 1 April 2013.