Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman Essay

Length: 8 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Essay Paper: #50032022 Related Topics: Death Of A Salesman, Susan Glaspell, Jewish Studies, A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … American Dream; Now a Distant Reality

This book was chosen not just because of the way that the story has been written by the author Arthur Miller but also because it revolves around the 'great American dream of success.' The way that the author has shown the downfall of a family and how the main character of the story holds onto his hopes of success to the extent of obsession seems very relatable in today's world. I have picked this story also because it is a very well written modern American tragedy and also because it shows the great American dream of success and how our current economic scenario is making it harder for the people to make this dream come true.

According to Frank Ardolino (2002) within this novel Miller has described the American Dream as well as how the characters in this novel try to achieve this dream. The American Dream is mainly based upon the notion that any person can have success in life and it doesn't matter where he/she started from. According to the story that has been told in "Death of a Salesman" all one requires to be triumphant is to be admired by the people in one's surrounding. This theme is present even now in our society to a certain extent. However, according to the American Dream one has to be an extremely punctilious in life and also possess perseverance to be successful.

Numerous characters have been shown in the book, which are seen to be in search of the great American Dream. However, some have been incapable to achieve that dream. These characters are namely, Happy Loman, Biff and Willy. Some characters have also been shown to achieve this American Dream and these characters are of Ben, Howard along with Charley.

Similarly, according to Mutee Abdul Salaam al-Sarory (2004) the American Dream had been achieved by Howard after his successful father assisted him in achieving it. His father was Willy's previous boss; Frank Wagener. Now he is running the Company wherein Willy works. Howard is successful and rich due to the fact that he has full control of the firm and is the person-in-charge of salesmen too. Willy has been fired by him due to his actions as he tells Willy that he believes Willy needs a sabbatical to relax.

Thereafter, Willy is seen begging Howard, his boss, for funds as he needed it to pay for insurance. However, Howard had other plans and Willy gets extremely disappointed after he is fired by the firm. In some people's opinion achieving the American Dream implies possessing and exercising power and the reader can see Howard feeling extremely powerful when he excises his powers at this particular point in the drama since he holds a position that allows him to fire whomever he wants. It has been with the help of money that this American Dream is achieved by Howard.

Charley another main character in the novel is shown to be a very good friend of Willy and he is Loman's neighbor as well. One can see that the American Dream has been achieved by Charley as he is successful and wealthy. However, he has gotten to where he is today all on his individual efforts and endeavors. One also sees that while Willy resents Charley for being so successful; he still trusts him as his friend. Charley tries to help Willy in difficult times by offering him a job but Willy refuses. We see that Charley too is living the American Dream but unlike Howard he doesn't misuse his power.

Willy's elder brother is Uncle Ben who passed away recently. He had been unable to achieve his American Dream. We often see Willy admiring his brother and envying his success and regretting not taking the Alaska trip where Ben got all his triumphs. Uncle Ben's success further proves the fact that it doesn't matter even if one has nothing in the beginning one can still achieve the American Dream.


One can see that the younger son of Willy, nicknamed Happy, works in a utility store as a buyer and he has an apartment of his own. However, he hasn't yet been able to achieve the American Dream as he happens to be in search of an stimulating and rewarding profession. Later on one sees him trying to convince his elder brother Biff to join him in some scheme where they would sell the sports apparatus and in order to promote it they will play games.

Willy is the main character of the story who happens to be sixty three years of age and he did once get an opportunity to fulfill his American Dream when his elder sibling Ben asked him to accompany Ben to Alaska. We see him having problems at this job. Later on, he gets fired and couldn't properly provide for his wife and children. Willy also is shown to cheat in his marriage and later on he commits suicide. He has been shown to be a very unhappy man who probably wouldn't have been able to achieve the American Dream since he had been really old.

According to Frank Ardolino (2002) throughout the novel one observes characters who have been able to achieve this American Dream and also those who happen to be a long way from achieving it. In this story one sees a character who worked all his life and actually was able to achieve his American Dream but then not achieve it as well, which is very sad.

The failure of the American Dream has been shown in this particular book by Miller along with the manner in which this failure impacts the Loman's family; damages the lives of Willy as well as his son Biff. One also sees how Willy gets blown away by the promises of success by America in his late sixty's. The reader also witnesses the way that all these promises are broken due to the Second World War as well as the Great Economic Depression of the 1930's.

Success according to Willy had been to be an entrepreneur who was liked by people around him. This had been very self-indulgent thinking as according to him his American Dream was to stay at home, pick up his handset and conduct his business with the vendors without having the need to actually leave his house and making his livelihood in this way. He felt that he could do this if he had been highly admired by the people and respected by them.

Later on one sees as Willy's American Dream actually becomes a complete nightmare for him as, he stops getting salary from the work since he had been functioning exclusively on a commission contract. One further witnesses him having problems providing for his family as he doesn't get much commission either.

What this novel shows is that to act like a responsible man, face the challenges and try your best to overcome them. Americans think that if one does not have this mentality then achieving the American Dream isn't really possible. Even in today's world there happen to be people who believe in the American Dream. There are still those who feel that they will get anywhere in life only on their kindness and good charisma However, another common belief today is that people are after each other's money, which is true as well. And this has been the reason why no one trusts the other person as they feel that there might be some ulterior motive because of which a person is being so nice to them.

In "Death of a Salesman" one sees how the American Dream is capable of changing into a nightmare as well. It is important to hold respectable reputation in one's workplace but depending solely on one's popularity for one's success is never a good idea. This is exactly what we see happen to the main character of the story Willy, who tries to get by only on his repute and the fact that he had been highly admired. What he didn't realize was that he also had to put in some effort to be a vigilant salesman. Later on in the story we see that Wily becomes so heartbroken over the fact that he wasn't able to achieve his American Dream and that his family had to suffer because of it that he commits suicide in the hopes that this would help his family with their financial problems.

According to Martin who wrote an article in 1996 titled, "The Nature of Tragedy in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" it is very often that people think of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller as one of the finest modern American tragedy. The authors who have done this critique have done it in such a manner that it makes complete sense. "The hero of the story doesn't fall from grace. Rather, the central character…

Sources Used in Documents:


Ardolino, F. (2002). I'm not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman!: the significance of names and numbers in Death of a Salesman. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. p174.

Cardullo, R.J. (2012). The Jew that miller drew: religion, ethnicity, and death of a salesman. European Journal of Jewish Studies. 6-2, p297-301.

Martin, R.A. (1996). The Nature of Tragedy in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. South Atlantic Review 61.4: p97-106.

Miller, A. (1998). Death of a Salesman. Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

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