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American Dream Essay, Research Paper
Success: Accomplishing Your Dream
Completing the “American Dream” is a controversial issue. The American Dream can be defined as having a nice car, maybe two or three of them, having a beautiful, healthy family, making an impact on the world, or even just having extra spending money when the bills are paid. In the play “Death Of A Salesman,” by Arthur Miller, the “American Dream” deals with prosperity, status, and being immortalized.
Willy Loman, a hard worker aged to his sixties never accomplished this goal. He always talked the talked, but never achieved to walk the walk. Willy Loman would always talk about who he’s met and how he has always well known and liked, but truthfully he never was. “Willy: He’s liked, but not-well liked?I got on the road and I went north to Providence. Met the Mayor. (ACT I, lines 232, 234)?Willy: And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there’ll be open sesame for all of us, ’cause one thing, boys: I have friends. I can park my car in any street in New England, and the cops protect it like their own?(ACT I, line 242).” Willy can talk of meeting wonderful and powerful men, but his limits stretch to the Mayor of Providence. Willy Loman’s dreams seem to outlive Willy.
Willy dreamed his life out, even to his death. He dreamed of dying the death of a salesman. All the powerful men he knew would attend his funeral. Cars would line up for miles and everybody would mourn his death. He would be greatly missed. Fact is Willy Loman’s funeral had an audience of very few people. “Charley: It was a very nice funeral. Linda: But where are all the people he knew? (REQUIEM, lines 7-8).” Willy’s funeral was tiny as well as his talk. Willy’s dreams were shallow and unlived even until his death.
Success was part of Willy Loman’s dream. Willy dreams of both he and his sons being successful. “Willy: Bernard is not well liked, is he? Biff: He’s liked, but he’s not well liked. Happy: That’s right, Pop. Willy: That’s just what I mean. Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him. That’s why I thank Almighty God you’re both built like Adonises. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates a personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me for instance? (ACT I, lines 270-272).” Biff and Happy, the Loman brothers, are two blind followers, falling for Willy’s dream. They have never seen what Willy has actually done. They’ve heard the words. Louis Gordon wrote this about the play:
“Hap, less favored by nature and his father, perhaps as Willy was in comparison with Ben, has escaped the closeness with his father that destroys Biff in social terms. Thus worshipping his father from afar, Hap has never fully come to realize that phony part of his father and his father’s dreams. He does have longings to be outdoors and to get away from the crippling fifty-weeks-of-work-a-year routine, but because he has never seen his father’s feet of clay, he has more fully than Biff accepted his father’s dreams. He is not a social rebel, and he will carry on with the life of a salesman, and, one suspects, go on to the death of a salesman. He will violate the boss’ wife out of some lonely desperation, as Willy sought support and solace in his Boston woman. He will also prove his manliness with fast cars and fancy talk, but again like Willy, he will never really believe in his own manliness in any mature way. Just as Willy is called a kid throughout, and referred to as the diminutive Willy be everyone except Ben?.Happy has been trapped by the infantile American Playboy magazine vision of the male. (Garrison).”
Happy and Biff are lost in the world of business. They want to start their own sporting goods company based on dreams and aspirations much like their fathers. Needless to say, they never get around to it. Not only failing in this success, but Willy himself was never successful.
Willy Loman always said that the key to success was to be well liked, not just liked. Appearance and good character will get you everything you need in life. Willy Loman’s next-door neighbor Charlie was a successful businessman. He owned his own company and offered Willy a job. Willy always thought he was farther ahead of Charlie because Charlie wasn’t as well liked as him. What Willy Loman never seemed to understand is that appearance and character do not matter. The figures in the end and being content are the signs of success.
Bernard was always a good student and has now become a successful lawyer. Willy hates to admit this because he always thought the Loman boys had character and looks, which would get them farther than Bernard. They were well liked, whereas Bernard was just liked. Bernard realized that school is what is needed; he seemed to care more about Biff’s education than Biff himself. Bernard along with his father Charlie realized the true keys to success.
The American Dream is often based on opinion. Willy Loman’s dream was to be known, to be prosperous, and to have a status. Willy Loman wanted to see Biff and Happy succeed; they had the so-called keys, good character and good looks. He wanted to die the death of a salesman of his era; instead he died the death of a salesman of this era.
Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman. Craig M. Garrison. Available.
Success: Accomplishing Your Dream
November 20, 2000
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