In "The Death of a Salesman" what is the significance of the american dream?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The importance of the American Dream in Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesmanis entirely dependent on the meaning that Willy Loman in particular gives to such a dream. In his eyes, the American Dream is the acquisition of money and wealth as a result of being well-liked and attractive. Nowhere does Willy's American Dream include hard-work, nor practicality: Everything is superficial and without any substance nor backbone whatsoever.

The significance of the American Dream, however, lays on the ability to catch it, achieve it, or earn it. It is a social myth that has propelled politics, literature, and even religion: To get back as much or more as you put in. To wake up to the day when there will be no more financial worries, because hard work provides for a settled future. Nowadays with an economy as weak as ours, the American Dream seems to be in a very high pedestal that we all pray we could reach. Willy has the same hopes but like Biff says of Willy during the "Requiem"

he had the wrong dreams.
kayleigh141094's profile pic

kayleigh141094 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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The play is centered around the American Dream and Willy's longing to achieve it. Even though he will never achieve it he still strives for it and in the end Happy continues in his fathers footsteps, seeminly into a doomed life, while Biff can see that it is impossible for them to achieve the American Dream in the life that they live in.

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