Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”: The American Dream
Arthur Miller’s stage play Death of a Salesman is an excellent depiction of one’s paranoic desire to achieve material success, recognition, and professional establishment. The ongoing theme of the American dream as a central metaphor in Miller’s work is mainly illustrated through William Loman’s reoccurring strive for success. Loman, while being an older adult with a loving family, a wife, and children, has never stopped chasing the American dream. For the salesman, the only path towards fulfillment is through professional achievements. Loman himself states that he feels like he is not noticed, and only by being a better salesman can he become a well-respected person in society (Miller 1237). Two essential concepts within the topic of the universal American dream are fame and money. Loman strongly agrees with the idea that working hard, making money, and becoming an established salesman is the only path toward inclusion and recognition. Even his death served the purpose of giving his children a better financial opportunity through receiving insurance money. Thus, Loman’s only legacy is illustrated through the sons receiving material goods.
However, the dad’s American dream continues through Happy. After the father’s death, Happy is willing to continue William’s work and prove that he did not die in vain (Miller 1258). Instead of realizing that the superficial American dream has left the family without a father figure, the son clings to the idea that striving for success is a legacy that is to be continued. Thus, the American dream becomes something of a curse in the Loman family, robbing the members of their individuality and replacing them with a simplistic overview based on superficial success.
Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman”. The Norton Anthology. American Literature 1965 to the Present. 2017.