Death of a Salesman .. please helpp!!How is Miller's critical attitude towards the American Dream shown in Death of a Salesman? (Refer to character, set, symbolism)

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arhur Miller created the character of Willy Loman to illustrate his thesis that the American Dream is a false illusion which causes most people to end up badly. Willy works all his life just to pay his bills, but he passes on his hopes and dreams to his two sons, thinking he is giving them good advice when in reality he is filling their heads with false illusions. The set is a deteriorating house which is being surrounded by tall office buildings representing the relentless march of ruthless private enterprise and shutting out the sunlight for Willy and his family. Some of the symbols include the old car that is always breaking down and the refrigerator that becomes inoperable just when they have finally finished paying for it. Miller's main attitude was that America is a dog-eat-dog society in which people must prepare to compete for existence and not count on anyone to appreciate them for their personalities or other good qualities. Miller has been quoted as saying that the essence of all drama is that the chickens come home to roost. That is, people end up having to pay for their sins of commission and omission in life. Willy's whole family has to end up paying for his romantic belief that a man can achieve success just by being friendly and well liked. Willy actually lived in a dream until he became too old to work, and then he woke up to the cruel reality of life.

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Death of a Salesman

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