The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”

Death of a Salesman is a play concerning the disparities existing between the dreams of a New York family and the realism of their lives. This play is a scornful account of the American Dream and of the aggressive, money-oriented American society of the late 1950s. The plot depicts Willy Loman, a regular man who tries to hide his commonness and disappointments behind illusions of sumptuousness and splendor as he struggles to be a “success.” Miller uses numerous characters to distinguish the dissimilarity between failure and success.

Willy is portrayed as a pensive salesperson whose dream is much bigger than his business capability; her wife supports him even when he lacks a sense of practicality/reality. Happy and Biff are sightless siblings who believes in Willy’s (their father) misleading notion of life, whereas Ben is the only family member with that unique aspect needed to triumph and prosper. On the contrary, Charlie and Benard (his son), enjoy greater triumph in life unlike members of Willy’s family.

To be triumphant in the 20th century one ought to have the ability to acknowledge change because the world is constantly changing. The aim of all North Americans is the “American Dream” which is what ensnared Willy in the play. His incapability to adjust to the transforming world surrounding him caused his tragic end. His viewpoint is close to that of a child; he does not like taking responsibility for his deeds. Due to his irresponsibility and infantile behavior, Willy creates these gigantic dreams, which are impracticable for a man of his age.

What’s more, Willy does not know that his hands help him more than the sales business. When he gets laid-off, his arrogance prevents him from being employed by his neighbor, Charley. Willy entirely believes in what he considers “the American Dream promise” that an “accepted” and “personally attractive” businessman will without a doubt and deservedly obtain the worldly comforts provided by contemporary American life.

Strangely, his obsession with the superficial traits of attractiveness and pleasant appearance is in opposition with a grainier, more gratifying comprehension of the American Dream that recognizes hardwork without complaint as the key to triumph. His understanding of attractiveness is phony; he immaturely detests Bernard because he believes he is a geek. Willy’s blind conviction in his immature edition of the American Dream brings about his speedy mental decline when he is incapable of accepting the difference between his own life and dream.

His main fixation all through the play is what he believes to be Biff’s disloyalty of his ambition for him. He thinks Biff should fulfill the promise inbuilt in him. When Biff abandons Willy’s dreams and ambitions, Willy perceives it as an insult and takes the rebuff as a personal outrage. In any case, Willy is a salesperson and Biff’s ego-mashing rebuff ultimately echoes Willy’s incapability to trade him on the American Dream, the merchandise in-which Willy trusts faithfully.

In spite of Willy’s faith in the American Dream, a faith steadfast to the extent that he missed the chance to go to Alaska with Ben; the Dream’s promise of monetary safety evaded Willy. Towards the end of the play, Willy is persuaded by Ben to get in the “jungle” at last and repossess this indefinable diamond i.e. to take his life for insurance money so as to make his life worthwhile. The play idealizes the rural-agrarian dream but does not make it authentically obtainable to Willy.

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Premium Papers. (2023, July 12). The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”. Retrieved from


Premium Papers. (2023, July 12). The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”.

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"The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”." Premium Papers, 12 July 2023,


Premium Papers. (2023) 'The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”'. 12 July.


Premium Papers. 2023. "The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”." July 12, 2023.

1. Premium Papers. "The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”." July 12, 2023.


Premium Papers. "The American Dream in the Play “Death of a Salesman”." July 12, 2023.