The American Dream Essay

Two sides of the American Dream DEATH OF A SALESMAN The American Dream is thought and lived out differently by everyone, but not many think about how toxic and corrupt this dream can turn out to be. Willy Loman taught his son’s that it’s acceptable to live a life full of greed, lies, and pride. This leads to Willy destroying his relationship with Biff, and leading Happy down the same path of regret and mistakes he has. In the play, “Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller we are shown what happens when people let this dream consume their lives. Miller shows us how this dream can tear a person, and all those around them, apart.

TH SANDBOX The American Dream has different views and approaches by different types of people, but in the end most people want to be happy and content with everything and everyone in their lives. In the paly, “The Sandbox,” by Edward Albee we see how this dream can ruin families and relationships. People become so obsessed with chasing and trying to reach this dream they get consumed, and forget about anything or anyone else. Grandma’s time on earth is near end, and Mommy and Daddy put a production together of what they feel like is the proper funeral, but fail to bring their good acting.

Edward Albee uses the setting and props to symbolically represent a greater meaning or message behind them. THE AMERICAN DREAM President Franklin D. Roosevelt described The American Dream as “peace, prosperity, and all around wellbeing of the American people. ” Some search for too much of prosperity and find themselves unsatisfied because their wellbeing physically and emotionally is staggering. Greed and pride are words that could go hand and hand with this great dream. In the plays, “Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller and, “The Sandbox,” by

Edward Albee, we are shown how greed and pride can lead to a life of loneliness and regret through both props and characters. In both plays we see different versions of the American Dream, and how it affected the lives of the characters. WILLY’S RERETS Willy lives a life full of regret, hurt, and loneliness. His brother Ben, who he always looked up to, was rich. In the play, Ben says, “when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And by God, I was rich! ” (Miller 36). Willy turns down the opportunity to go with Ben for his family.

During their youth, the boys seem to have a promising future ahead of them, but that changed when Biff caught Willy with his mistress. Biff never graduated high school and has jumped from job to job, which leads both him and Willy to have resentment towards each other. In the play, he told Happy, “Hap, I’ve had twenty or thirty different kinds of jobs since I left home before the war, and it always turns out the same. ” (Miller 14). And Happy is trying to make his father proud but is still living the bachelor life, “That girl Charlotte I was with tonight is engaged to be married in five weeks. ” (Miller 15).

Neither of the boys are living the way their father wanted, and he feels like a failure because of it. THE LOMAN’S LIFETYLE Willy and his son’s relationship shows us how toxic living a materialistic life can turn out to be. According to “Death of a Salesmanship,” by Diana Ansarey, it says, “The Loman family live in a materialistic world where dreams and hopes have no directions, where values are diminished and promises are broken. ” (Ansarey 157). The Loman family, as a whole, value earthly possessions, and how popular and liked they are. Willy and his boys to believe that success is measured by how popular or liked you are.

This has led both Biff and Happy to lead unstable lifestyles, and Biff to jump from job to job. Ansarey continued her argument by saying, “So Willy’s success was that he was able to translate the same deceiving dream to his son. ” (Ansarey 157). At the end of his life, Willy had many regrets and depression. He had a dream not only for himself, but for his sons as well, which they both failed to live up to. BIFF AND HAPPY’S MINDSET Biff and Happy were raised to believe that being well-liked would get them far in life, but he never taught them true values and morals.

According to “Built Like Adonises”, by Terry Thomas, it says, “In this skewed view of success, Biff and Happy’s good looks, muscular physiques, and boyish charms mean that the two brothers are, according to their cheerleader father, destined for “all kinds of greatness. ” (Thomas par 3). Willy believes and raised his boys to believe greatness and success was reached by your good looks and how liked you were. In the play, Miller supports this argument, when Willy says, “Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not — liked. He’s liked, but he’s not — well liked. (Miller 19).

Willy works hard and has a stable job, but never showed his boys how to do that, because he believed that they could just be handed everything. Thomas continues her argument by saying, “Willy begins to fade in and out of pleasant memories from the past in order to escape the present and avoid thinking about what promises to be a gloomy future. ” (Thomas par 1). Willy has flashbacks to a time he believed was better. A time when both of his boys had promising futures, especially Biff who had multiple scholarships to play football at different colleges.

He realizes that while raising his boys he made the mistake of letting them believe that they were entitled to anything. WILLY’S MISTAKES Willy’s pride is one of his main flaws, but it is also one of the reasons his relationship with his sons is so damaged. According to “The Psychological Politics of the American Dream”, by Lois Tyson, it says, ‘Willy feels it is his own success he is experiencing in Biff’s success. This is something other than healthy parental pride in a son who makes good, pride in one’s success as a father–Charley’s pride in his son, not Willy’s, is of this kind.

Willy’s pride is projection, a very personal and intense form of vicarious experience. ” (Tyson par 23). Willy’s pride in his sons isn’t a normal parental pride. It’s as if he put all his hopes and dreams in his sons, so when they succeed or do well he feels as if its him succeeding. Tyson continues with the argument by saying, “Willy will not have to face the repressed awareness of his failed life that keeps threatening to break through into his consciousness and overwhelm him. ” (Tyson par 23). By living through his son, Willy won’t have to face the fact that he failed to achieve his dreams and goals.

But when he didn’t feel as much pride in his sons anymore, he is overwhelmed by the feeling of his failures. Willy feels forced to live the life he does, and he’s trying to look for an outlet. He pushes the boy’s to be great and wants them to live a life far away from the one he has lived. BIFF AND HAPPY’S Biff and Happy were taught to believe that they could get away with anything, because of who they were. Miller supports this because in the play when Biff stole the football from the locker room, Willy says, “Coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative! (Miller 19).

Instead of making Biff return the ball and apologizing, he said it’s fine the coach well congratulate you for practicing at home. According to “Shame, Guilt, Empathy, and the Search for Identity”, by Fred Ribkoff, it says, “Biff’s inherited sense of shame drives him to steal and to perform for his father. The fact that he steals does not, however, bother his father too much. Guilt can be concealed and, perhaps, forgiven and forgotten. ” (Ribkoff par 12). Biff gets the desire to steal to impress and in a way from himself to his father.

And because he was never taught that stealing was wrong, and instead got praises from his father, he never really got a sense of guilt because of it. Willy had his doubts about what he was teaching his boys, he said to Ben, “Oh, Ben, that’s good to hear! Because sometimes I’m afraid that I’m not teaching them the right kind of — Ben, how should I teach them? ” (Miller 36). He didn’t know if he was doing a good job with his boys, and he needed someone who was living out the dream like Ben to reassure him.

WILLY’S FINAL DECISION Willy is depressed because he and his sons are unsuccessful, so he spends his time flashing back to when his boys were younger, and full of passion to succeed. According to “Who is to Blame for Willy Loman’s Death? “, by Zheng Danqing it says, “He still hopes his son could fulfill his American Dream. It is his greed and madness in pursuing success finally destroys him. ” (Danqing 27). Willy desires and obsesses over success so much that he’s willing to take his own life.

He wants Biff to reach and live out his American Dream, and he could use Willy’s life insurance money to do it. Danqing continues this argument by saying, “Willy places many hopes on Biff. He gradually realizes that the chance for him to be successful is becoming slimmer and slimmer. ” (Danqing 28). Willy realizes his dream of becoming a successful salesman is becoming just a dream, so he places all his hope on his son Biff. Willy commits suicide so Biff can use his life insurance money to start a business, and carry on to live out their dream.