The American dream has stood to be each person’s idea of success. The American dream is usually associated with 1940’s America depiction of the ideal family, as can be depicted from television shows such as Leave it to Beaver. However, this is one aspect and shallow analysis of the American dream that is not appropriate for all reaching to achieve their American dream. In Arthur Miller’s Death ofa Salesman, Miller succeeds in portraying this through the characters Willy and Biff.
Their conflict represents two varying perspectives of the American dream, and this very struggle eads to the conclusion that the American dream is rooted in the pursuit of a better life. Throughout Death of a Salesman, Miller portrays two ideas of the American dreams and it is definite that they are “American dreams” as they both deal with success and that character’s idea of success. Though, this is where characters’ views differ and conflict with one another.
Willys American dream is to have his children succeed and to leave his imprint on the society which he was unable to succeed in doing so in a life long career as a salesman. Furthermore, Willy lived in the ideology that being well liked” was far more important and and necessary than being a Bernard type of person and make a living based on his studies. Willys belief and encouragement of this ideology upon his sons influenced Biff immensely. As a result, Biff did not put the effort into his studies that would have enabled him to pass math and graduate high school and move on to a university.
Willy says, “Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here! ” That’s all they have to know and I go right through. ” (Act 1) According to Willy, someone who is capable of invoking personal interest in those around them will be more successful regardless of one’s knowledge or intelligence.
Biffs American dream is to free himself from the barriers of expectations, specifically those of his father. To free himself from his father’s desired dream for him and move towards his own chosen life which is to live and own a ranch is the country. However, Biff only came to realize his dream later in his adult life as opposed to only pleasing is father as he did as a child. It was only after the calamity of discover his father’s affair did Biff drift away from Willys expectations.
It is as he becomes resolute to follow his own dreams rather than his father’s expectations he says, “Will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens. ” (Act 2) This statement come from his final conversation with his father as Biff shows his last attempt to show Willy the he is not the person he thought Biff would be. Nevertheless, it was fear of Biff defecting from becoming the ideal person Willy dreamed Biff would be that lead Willy to his downfall.
As well as the crumbling of Willys American dream for Biff. The final message of Death of a Salesman is that a person’s American dream is whatever one perceives it means be successful. Fear of displacement from that Biff not becoming successful defined by Willys expectations for him, and such fear can destroy one’s American dream. Had it not been for Willys insistence on Biff to follow his ideology and become his father’s expectations, Biff would not have disregarded his studies and would have been able to graduate high school, and ecome successful in his own way.
Biffs American dream differs from that of the standard set by the”American dream” of 1940s America. The lifestyle viewed as being the family of an American citizen of that time would be a young man, a young woman, with three adorable children in the suburbs. However, Biff seems content with living like this, as the lifestyle depicted to be the goals of the American people are not suitable to him. The American dream depicted by the society of that time is Just one of many interpretations of the true American dream: the pursuit of a happy life.
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