Study Of Death Of A Salesman English Literature Essay


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The desire for the American dream can distort ones perceptions and can overcome a person's personal desires. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller shows the progression of two men with a blinded perception of what they need, to fulfill the American dream. Willy Loman the husband, father, and salesman in the story never is able to accept that he is just a dime a dozen as Biff his son finally realizes.

Willy: "I've got a job."

Charley: Without pay? What kind of a job is a job with no pay? (He rises) Now, look, kid, enough is enough. I'm no genius but I know when I'm being insulted.

Willy: Insulted!

Charley: Why don't you want to work for me?

Willy: What's the matter with you? I've got a job.

"Because you got a greatness in you, Biff, remember that. You got all kinds of greatness..." (Miller, 1. 891) Willy thinks highly of Biff and that he should be out being successful since he was always well liked he had "personal attractiveness" (Miller 1.110).

Biff realizes he is lost and that his father has been trying to make it seem like they are living the dream. He has had a number of jobs since he was out of high school, in a conversation with his brother Happy, Biff says, "I tell ya, Hap, I don't know what the future is. I don't know - what I'm supposed to want...I spent six or seven years after high school trying to build myself up" (Miller, 1.133). Biff realizes that there is something wrong with the way Willy sees achieving the American dream. Arguing with his father Biff states, "Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you" (Miller 2.883-86)! Willy appalled that his son has said this to him, "You vengeful, spiteful mutt" (Miller, 2.879) Biff becoming worn down and begins crying "Will you let me go...Will you take that phony dream and burn it..." (Miller, 2.882) Biff knows that there is no great American dream. In the Requiem Biff even says, "He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong" (Miller, R.16) Willy stunned that Biff was crying over him becomes joyous "He cried! Cried to me, That boy - that boy is going to be magnificent" (Miller, 2.886)! Willy still is blinded and truly believes that his boy will fulfill his dream of being successful.

Willy possesses an insurance policy for $20,000, Willy believes with this money his son will be able to be successful. In a conversation with Charley Willy subtly mentions this idea, "Funny, y'know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive." and Charley replies, " Willy, nobody's worth nothin' dead. (After a slight pause.) Did you hear what I said" (Miller, 2.370-71) then Willy fades off into the past. Willy has battled throughout the story with contemplating suicide. Linda finds a hose connected to a heater and has had many accidents that some believe not to be just accidental. Shortly following the scene in which Biff breaks down Willy has another flash back more of a hallucination with his dead brother Ben. Ben almost like a sub conscience of Willy's, Ben says, "Yes, outstanding, with twenty thousand behind him" (Miller, 2.887). Linda begs Willy to come to bed for a while, Willy continually telling her he will be there in a few. You hear the car start and drive off into the distance.

Through out the story we can see how the American dream can cause a person to change. Willy tried so hard to achieve this dream and wanting the same for his sons. Biff ends up realizing that it is a fantasy that his father is living in.

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