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Death of a Salesman The Illusion of the American Dream

Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman was written after the second World War while the American economy was booming. Society was becoming very materialistic, and the idea that anyone could make it in America was popular. These societal beliefs play a large part in Death of a Salesman, a play in which the main character, Willy Loman, spends a lifetime chasing after the American Dream. Willy was sold on the wrong dream. He was enamored with a myth of American ideals and chose to put aside his real talents in pursuit of a fantasy. In several instances of the play, we see that Willy is a skilled carpenter. He wants to redo the front step just to show off to his brother, and he is constantly fixing things around the house. However, he doesnt see carpentry as an acceptable occupation. It entails hard work and there isnt any glory in it. Instead, he chooses to follow the dream of being a successful salesman. The problem is that Willy doesnt seem to have any of the skills needed to be a salesman. He deludes himself into thinking that he is vital in New England (Miller, 14) but we find out during his meeting with Howard that even during his good years he wasnt doing as well as he thought he was. He has convinced himself that he averages one hundred and seventy dollars a week in commission, but Howard tells him otherwise. This is a shock to Willy; hes not used to having reality forced upon him. Willy sees being a salesman as a worthy profession; he apparently puts a lot of effort into his sales pitches. His ideal fate is the same as Dave Singlemans; to be so well-liked that he can make sales over the phone and to have hundred of people attend his funeral. Willy is blind to the pathetic side of Singlemans life; the fact that he worked until the day that he died and that he died alone. Willy can see only Singlemans popularity among the buyers, something that Willy has strived for all of his life. Here we find one of Willys main pr...

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