Why is it that the American dream is achievable for some, but for others, it’s a lifelong journey that doesn’t seem to end?
The American dream, is an opportunity for prosperity and success. It is having the opportunity to achieve a person’s highest aspirations while also on an upward social mobility for your family. This is something that is long searched for by Willy loman, a father in Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman, who dies trying to achieve it. Willy Loman is the father of Biff and Happy, who believes that being rich and well liked is the path to success. The search for the American dream leads to the downfall of his family and the death of Willy Loman, and put into perspective, whether or not the American dream is worth dying for. Willy Loman fails to achieve the American dream for several reasons. Willy’s pride and failure as a salesman, prevents him from being in a better financial position and achieving a sense of security. In addition, Willy fails socially, as he is not well known, and makes himself seem more superior than he actually is. Lastly, his infidelity to his wife and failure as a parent, prevents him from achieving the dream, as he set an unrealistic definition of success, Therefore, Willy loman did not achieve the American dream due to his own flaws, insecurities and shortcomings.
Loman’s hamartia and tragic flaw of excessive pride ultimately leads to his downfall. Willy Loman is a very prideful man, who always puts his pride before his, and his family’s needs. His pride gets in the way of his financial struggle. The truth being he is an unsuccessful salesman and at the age of 63, fails to become financially stable, as he is in debt and only making 70 dollars a week. He always retrieves to the past and overly exaggerates his past successes, when in reality he is just a mediocre salesman, who has only makes monumental sales in his imagination. Willy thought that he is “Vital in New England” and believes that “the only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” so he never give up on being a salesman. Part of achieving the American dream is being financially stable, and Willy loman is struggling financially. His failure as a salesman also generates some regret, as Willy wishes he followed his brother, Ben to Africa. Ben and Willy were meant to travel to Alaska to find their father, who abandoned them, but Wily changed his mind, upon meeting an 88 year old, Dave Singleman, who was a known, and respected salesman. Willy wanted the same respect and recognition, so he didn’t travel with his brother. Ben mistakenly travels to Africa and “When i he was seventeen i he walked into the jungle, and when i he was twenty-one i he walked out. And by God i he was rich ” Willy could have been financially successful, if maybe he followed his brother and this thought, generated some regret for Willy. Lastly, Willy loman could have been in a better financial position if he accepted a job from Charley, his neighbor. Charley achieves the dream but Willy doesn’t have respect for him because “he’s liked, but he’s not-well liked.” Willy is a typical tragic hero as he is very prideful. Willy puts his pride before his needs and turned down Charley’s job offer calling it an “insult.” To conclude, Willy loman fails, the financial aspect of the American dream as he is not financially stable and fails to find success in being a salesman. He was too prideful to admit that he wasn’t a good salesman, thus leading him to a financial downfall.
In addition, Willy fails the social aspect of the American dream. Willy fails to achieve the American Dream socially because he was not well liked, and has not instilled respect upon the loman name. Willy’s philosophy in life is that if you are well liked, success would soon follow. But Willy does not achieve popularity and respect. He exaggerates his successes and everyone around him knows that ‘Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived.’ Also part of the American is being known in your community and contributing to better the community, and Willy has not contributed anything to his community but thinks that “I he can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own.” Willy hasn’t done anything significant for the cops to know him, and protect his car like their own. Lastly, Wily fails at the social aspect of the American dream because he was a liar. The only successful thing Willy has sold was lies. He lies about how much he sold, and how popular and liked he is. Even up to before his death he believes that he was liked and that his “funeral will be massive! They’ll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old-timers with the strange license plates – that boy Biff will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized – I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey – I am known, Ben, and he’ll see it with his eyes once and for all.’ The opposite of Willys prediction happened, and only people who show up where his wife and sons. To conclude, Willy loman isn’t popular and well liked or respected. He did not achieve popularity, contribute to his community and his funeral was not massive and only people in attendance were his immediate family, therefore, he fails at the social level of the American dream. *specify and develop one more example
A fundamental aspect of the American dream is to have a functioning, family household. Any parent would criticize the parenting techniques of Willy Loman, as he pushes his ideology of success on his family. Willy loman fails the family aspect of the American dream as he, not only fails being a father, but also as a husband. Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy idolized their father, and took his advice to heart. Linda also respects her husband Willy, and supported his ideas and dreams. Willys failure as a father stems from him pushing his idea of success onto his sons. Biff never wanted to be a salesman but Willy pushed him to pursue business, as Biff had the qualities of being well liked. “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.’ is what he taught Biff, and never the importance of hard work. Biff always seeks the approval of his father, but as is trying to please him, he never fully explored his own interests. Also Willy lost communication with his sons but mostly Biff. He fondly remembers Biff as a teenager and was able to successfully communicate with him, but now he is unable to communicate with Biff without an argument. As a result, he praises Biff in one breath, while criticizing him in the next. In the American dream, a father and son are meant to come to an understanding and work together, but for Willy and Biff, they clash and never understand where the other is coming from. In the end, it leads to Biff begging “Will you let me go for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?” Biff had enough of trying to please his father and become something he’s not. Lastly Willy loman fails the family aspect of the American dream due to his infidelity. Willy had an affair with a woman in Boston, and gave her boxes of Linda’s stockings. The guilt of the affair, causes some of Willy’s irrational behavior. This guilt is especially present when Linda mends her stocking. Willy gets angry with Linda when mending her stockings telling her “I won’t have you mending stockings in this house! Now throw them out!” as it brings up unwanted memories and guilt of his infidelity. Linda is a typical American wife, a homemaker, and has always loved and supported her husband. Willy knows that he has failed as a husband knows that “the women Linda has waited and the woman she has suffered.” To conclude, Willy loman failed the family aspect of the American dream because he forces his notion of success onto his family, he lost communication with his sons, and caused suffrage with his affair with the “other women”
In conclusion the American dream can be achieved with hard work, dedication and support. For some, the American dream can only be a dream, but for others the good life can be achieved. Willy Loman had all the opportunities to achieve the American dream, but due to his own shortcomings he was unable to. Willy had “all the wrong dreams” and made all the wrong choices, which lead him on a bad path. ‘Personality always wins the day.’ but that wasn’t true for Willy as his personality led him down a bad path. He was unable to achieve the American dream because of his failure financially, his failure as a father and husband and also his failure socially. Social status, family dynamic and financial stability are all aspects of the American dream which Willy failed at.