Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman shapes the trajectory of understanding the American dream in what is considered as the promise of success in the economic and social spectrum. By using the character that exudes the personally attractive and the well-liked man in business, Miller explores the inherent desire among the middle class Americans to acquire material comfort. This is occasioned by the modern American life, evidenced in "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" (Miller, p.21). 21.
The fixation of Loman with the attractiveness and other superficial qualities of likeability puts him at odd with the fundamental understanding of the motif of the American dream in identifying that work without complaints is the significant key to success. The superficial interpretation of likeability portrays the blind hope and faith in conceptualizing the American dream. This manifest a psychological decline that makes it imperatively challenge for the Americans to accept disparities between the envisioned dream, as well as the reality in life.
The biography of Arthur Miller shapes the understanding of his ability to comment on the social, economic experiences, hopes and illusions of the American people. The prolific writing career of Miller spanned for years making him gain experience in the art and literature environment. Miller pinned together, Death of a Salesman in 1949 to address the question of identity and its loss as well as the inability of the man to accept change within the society and himself (Lawrence, p.23).
The setting of the play The Death of a Salesman evidences the environment of Willy Loman’s him and the Brooklyn. The setting epitomize the growth of the population relevant to the central message of the American dream as illustrated in "They don't need me in New York. I'm the New England man. I'm vital in New England." (Miller, p.4). Characters are separated from nature to show a feeling of desire to escape reality and at eh same time portray the confinement to the illusion of the American dream.
Miller employs characters that dominate the longing for the American dream. According to Lawrence (p.43) it is clear that the subjective viewpoint of the characters blurs their reality from the present and enhances their dwelling in the future. This is the manifestation of expressionism and realism in the play to show the desire by Willy to provide for his family and ensure that they realize the American dream.
The conflict in the Death of a Salesman is hinged on the complex nature that combines motifs, denial, illusion, despair and hope. The author enhances the literary style by combining the past with the present to shape the trajectory of growth of members of the society out of a lifetime of denials and life. The inability of Will to maintain a life devoid of strain as a traveling salesman denotes the intrinsic and extrinsic conflict. According to Cullen (p21) the failure by Biff and his brother to realize their dreams and the evidence of the loss of their innocence manifest their blames on their father for misleading them. The attempted suicide in the car as a stage management is a firm indicator on the resolve of the characters to remain hoping that they will in the future achieve the American dream.
Miller employs a sympathetic, mocking and candid tone to reinforce his central argument of the American dream primarily. Littered through stage direction, the sensitive but painful reality of achieving the American dream mocks the acceptance of the characters of materialistic but empty understanding of the American dream.
Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004
Lawrence, Samuel. The American Dream: A Cultural History. New York: Syracuse University Press, 2012
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman . Oxford: Prentice-Hall 1949