The Theme of American Dream in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” And Its Reflection in His Life Introduction Literature is reflection of life and it evidently evolves out of time and society in which it is created. Likewise the importance of the concept of American Dream plays very crucial role in literature of America…
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The play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller encapsulates within its tight-lipped plot, fall of a myth pertaining to American Dream and its vision that “success is obtained by being well-liked”. The essay intends to perceive and examine the theme of American Dream and its failure closely woven within the plot of the play that sets challenges to the capitalistic concepts and desires of new America. Arthur Miller was born on October 17th in the year of 1915 and expired on 10th February 2005. He was an eminent playwright and essayist from America. He was a very poignant figure in the American theatre and composed many important socio-political plays like “All My Sons (1947)”, “Death of a Salesman (1949)”, “The Crucible (1953)”, “A View from the Bridge (1955)” among others. Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is acclaimed as the first great American tragedy and while projecting it, Miller gained name for the American to understand the true essence of the nation and its tragedy. As a university graduate, he witnessed the hollow pursuit of the good life entwined with the American Dream in the society of America. The disillusioned socio-economic perspective and dystopia led Miller to compose the play, “Death of a Salesman” which was only possible for a person like Miller who came up from the mundane and meagre streets of Harlem in New York and was able to witness the unveiled mask of American Dream. The concept of American Dream operates at the national level in United States which includes a promise of freedom, possibility of prosperity and freedom and success. The definition of American Dream contended by James Torso Adams in the year 1931 was envisaged as “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” irrespective of social class or background. With this glittering vision in life, people of America started reconstructing their nation and society in the post-war period with immense faith on their destiny more than their hard-work or potentials. American Dream got concentrated on being rich overnight and the parameter for the pursuit of happiness got captivated to the scale of owing big house, glamorous cars and all the comfort which consumerism and materialism can bring to their citizens. This led to the death of spirituality and made every citizen hollow where the potentials of every American were being judged with their skilled salesmanship and not with their courage or hard-work. Soon, it became the society of the salesman whose only goal became selling commodities to earn profit and ceasing to be a man; every American is soon seen putting a mask of fraud and the ability to sell the commodities regardless of its intrinsic uselessness. “Death of a Salesman”: American Dream Realized or Shattered During the fall of the values associated with the American Dreams, many writers in their work captivated the concept with its shattering image. Arthur Miller is not an exception in this regard. He envisioned the dark side of the American Dream and in the year 1949, Miller yielded one of his finest plays which captivate the shattering of the American Dream in the post-war period. The tragedy is presented as the democratization of classical form of tragedy
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In fact, the Declaration of Independence aptly puts it that “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” 1 .
It is perhaps this background that largely informed their preoccupations with the themes of upward mobility and the American Dream. Indeed, writer Lorrie Moore called Wilson’s play ‘Fences’ “an African-American Death of a Salesmen”. Additionally, writing on the notion of this dream in ‘Death of a Salesman’ it’s that it noted that, “the post-industrial capitalist boom was the dream that constituted hard work, success, money, and freedom” (Masinski, xiv).
The story, based on Willy Loman as the main character, revolves around him to demonstrate a number of themes including the American dream. Miller majorly applies flashback to demonstrate, through Willy, the concept of the American dream and its impacts on people’s social, psychological, and economic lives.
The epic style of Bertolt Brecht which he describes in his work A short Organum for the Theatre, the Theatre of Cruelty, the Theatre of Oppression and others formed a movement that brought back a vitality to the stage that was missing from earlier forms of drama (Brecht 3).
In search for wealth and success, the society seemed to adapt to modern ways at the time due to the changing economic and business environment. Capitalism as a social economic system has been expressed in the story to have been a key determinant in the life of the main character, Willy Loman, and his family’s failure.
Unfortunately, most of the Americans still strongly believe that this preposterous ambition can be achieved. Achieving the American dream undoubtedly depends on an individual’s own definition of the dream, thus, causing many varieties to choose from. John Winthrop visualized a religious paradise in a “City upon a Hill”, while Martin Luther King, Jr.
less of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position” (Smith, 27). While reading through Miller’s Death of a Salesman, one can certainly identify the central character Willy Loman and his son Biff exactly following this concept and taste the bitter side of life where one loses his own life and the other his father.
(Name) (Tutor’s Name) (Date) ‘Death of a Salesman’: A Research Essay Arthur Miller’s death of a Salesman’ is a renowned play of the modern times set in the backdrop of a generation chasing the ‘great American dream’. The piece of art inspires people to accept the reality that they can achieve their ambitions in life only through hard work.
Miller's play is already complex and delicate in itself. However, the overall effect of the production, with the aid of the actors, set, lighting and costumes not only created a surreal audio-visual experience to the audience but also generated deeply emotional and poignant scenes.
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