Death Of A Salesman: Discuss The Importance Of Dreams To The Play

1519 words - 7 pages

Death of a Salesman: Discuss the Importance of Dreams to the Play

Within Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman there are numerous types of dreams featured. They range from daydreams and fantasies to all hallucination-like experiences and are always components of Willy Loman’s imagination and mind. Arthur Miller utilizes these dreams as a tool to convey Willy’s subconscious longings and desires. Dreams are also vital to the narrative as they convey Willy construction of reality in post-war era America when failure of the elusive American Dream was not conventionally discussed. Dreams are also integral to the play from the audience’s perspective; they explain the plot line and characters ...view middle of the document...

Happy Loman, Willy’s youngest son, parallels Willy’s characteristics with his passive acceptance of society’s principles; his deluded self-importance and devotion to society’s expectations embody the darkest side of the American Dream. For example Happy calls himself the assistant buyer when in fact he is the assistant to the assistant buyer.
Linda Loman, Willy’s wife, may encompass a perspective on the American Dream but she does not show any strong opinions, she embodies ‘ iron repression’ indicative of the place of women in that era. All she wishes if for everyone to be happy, even if it meaning Willy ‘wiping the floor with her’.
Each member of the Loman family has different hopes and ambitions, which run in accordance with their view on the American Dream. Willy derives all his pleasure from his past so his ambitions stem from his upbringing (with the American Dream). His constant desire for perfection and his superficial values mean he is always disappointed that his ambitions never come to fruition, but he can never accept this failure, as failure is not a possibility to him. This perspective drastically affects his life and his treatment of others. Throughout the play he suffers from almost metal illness-like illusions and hallucinations as the reality he has suppressed for so long overwhelms his mind. Due to this he treats people with contempt if they do not uphold to his superficial values; popularity, success, and general coherence with the American dream. For instance he does not like people for being ‘liked but well liked’, as he is fixated with popularity. His ambitions remain absolute throughout the play, so much so that in the end they cause his downfall. These hopes and ambitions define Willy as a much-remembered character, they show how he struggles to conceive reality and the pressure he feels from society to want artificial things. Propaganda in 1950’s America accentuated the fact that the American Dream was in reach of every man and therefore that was what Willy always wanted, to be just like everyone else who seemingly had perfection.
Biffs’ ambitions stem from continuously seeing his father’s failures. Willy always gave Biff a self deluded inflation of himself, which he began to realise with age. As a result of this Biff grew up not bound by social rules or expectations because of the delusions Willy enforces in him, ‘you’re built like an Adonis’ and ‘be liked and you’ll never want’. Therefore when Biff took to stealing because Willy had encouraged him, instead of disciplining him for this immoral act, Willy praised his initiative. However Biff begins to realise that his family is built on an edifice of deception; he is the only member of his family that has the perspective to realise the destruction of the Dream. Biff’s ambitions do however allow him to strive for what he wants and break the bounds of his father’s imprisoning expectations. Although Biff does embody many similar attributes to Willy, like brief...

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