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Death of a Salesman: The American Dream

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on 2 March 2015

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Transcript of Death of a Salesman: The American Dream

"Willy Loman also had to fantasize in order to avoid the realities he could not handle and to give [himself] the confidence [he would lack].."

"Miller's characterization of...Ben represents the frontier as a metaphor of American capitalism itself. Always short of time, the imagined figure repeatedly enters Willy's consciousness to suggest that his current limited life of anxiety and frustration could have been otherwise. And it is Ben who also plays an important part in tempting Willy to his death, with promise that by suicide he can, at last, achieve the material security for his family that he so desperately desires. The frontier ethic may offer opportunities and riches but they come at a price."
"Willy Loman is a product of a nation of great military strength, indescribable material wealth, and incredible mastery of the physical realm, which nonetheless was unable, in 1946, to produce a 'typical' hero who was capable of an affirmative view of life...[Willy] had forgotten to prize industriousness over cunning; usefulness over mere acquisition, and above all, humanism over 'success'".

"Willy...wanted to be well liked, and wanted to have the personality to 'win friends and influence people'...only [Linda] stood by [him], and sustained her husbands illusions in the face of reality."

"...Willy was too proud to give up his salesman's job (or admit that he had been fired) to work for Charlie."

"Willy, however, in his own failures, must live more through his sons...that through his more obvious and painful confrontations with failure, Willy has been forced to become more introspective...[Willy was not] interested in learning from other people or wanted the real world to intrude upon his fantasy world."
"Biff turns on his father at the end of Miller's play in words that anticipate ...(the young American anti-hero.)...For Biff as well, there are too many lies"

"Biff Loman, in his dissatisfaction with the urban existence of routine work, competition, and uncomfortable commuting, refers back to his time as a farm-hand. Trying to make his brother understand the attractions of the life, the cadences and imagery of his speech suggest a wholeness and sense of fulfillment that is missing for him in New York...As Biff struggles to conform to his father's expectations, the attractions of this alternative life [on the farm], evoked by the slow rhythms and sensuous particularities of the language he uses, serves as a measure of what he is missing..."
Adapted from Professor Ted M. Ownby

Published a book called "American Dreams in Mississippi: Consumers, Poverty, and Culture, 1830-1988
Consisted of important topics such as the four dreams of consumerism
The American Dream
Looking at the American Dream by:
Defining what the "American Dream" is
Discovering how to achieve the dream
Relating it to Death of a Salesman
Looking at literary criticism in relation to it
Analysis of the American Dream
With an in depth analysis of the American Dream we are now able to:
Understand the importance and significance of the dream
Recognize how the dream is achievable
Identify the close relation of the dream to numerous characters throughout the play
Analyze the impact the dream has on the characters in the play
Defining the American Dream
The American Dream Broken Down
"Anyone who can work, can work"
Able to live in a society with unlimited opportunity
Man accomplished his goal in life
Dreams have barriers that limit innovation
Dream through Song
moved to LA to accomplish her dreams
Party in the USA
Loose Yourself
Seizing opportunities you may regret
work allowed him to get the things he wants in life: money, cars, clothes
Started from the Bottom
classic rapper who started from nothing and rose to success
Who Gon' Stop Me
not graduating from school and living on the streets did not stop them from starting their rap careers
On to the Next One
In order to be successful one must work hard and challenge themselves
No Matter What
Not being born rich should not stop one as everyone must suffer in the beginning in order to enjoy the luxuries that come after
Good Life
The process of earning money allows you to enjoy the "good life" you once imagined living
Opportunities in America are much better and luxurious of the ones in Puerto Rico.
The opportunities they do get are important because the conditions allow hem to grow and reach their fullest potential
Material Girl
People are products of what they see in the world enabling them to want to do well for themselves.
Hard work pays off as one is able to become established
America as the new world without monarchies
An opportunity to become successful
An America shaped by capitalism
The American Dream
Working Hard=Winning
Dream of Abundance
offering material goods which makes for a rich society
Dream of Democracy Goods
allowing people to access the same goods
Dream of Freedom of Choice
Allow people to create their own desired lifestyle
Dream of Novelty
inventing and using products to enhance the needs of people
What did this do?
Overall it allowed urbanization due to the growth of technology.
Considered part of the American Dream because things became universally tangible.
Statue of Liberty
An important symbol of the American Dream

Also known as "Liberty Enlightening the World"

Represents hope for a better life, freedom, and opportunity
The American Dream in Death of a Salesman
Seen through the main characters of Biff, Happy, and Willy
Biff's American Dream
Wanted to make a life for himself in Texas
Taught to take into consideration monetary success
Contemplates where he is getting in life and finding his dream
Biff's American Dream is not what Willy expects
Personal fulfillment over success
Biff identified dream without the influence of others
Happy's American Dream
Happy's dream is to be like his father and become a salesman
Happy will have a flawed dream if he follows Willy
Dream to break free from being in Biff's shadow and be recognized
Willy's American Dream
Willy is persistent on making it big and being well liked
In comparison Bernard's success allowed him to become a lawyer
Contrasting statements show Biff's choices crushed Willy's dream
Willy is trying to live his dream through the potential he sees in Biff
Willy clings to the memories of the past to find hope for the future
Ben has accomplished Willy's dream
Willy shows his regret for settling for a "lesser" dream
He knows he is failing which is why he pushes Biff
Ben's success alters Willy's sense of importance
Willy does not take Charlie's job offer because he will not give up on his dream
Willy's ego will not allow him to admit defeat
His failure of admitting flawed dream leads him to follow the wrong path in life which he instills on Biff
Charlie's eulogy shows that the American Dream misleads people and diminishes people to products
Literary Criticism
Willy Loman
What is Willy's Dream?
Willy's dream is to:
become well-liked, attractive businessman
acquire material comforts
provide for his family
What is the outcome of Willy's dreams?

Deconstruction of Willy (measure worth by wealth)
Flaw is he does not think he has to work hard
Willy's failure to understand this acts as a barrier of accomplishing his dream
Dreams become a nightmare because he is flawed
Criticism of Biff
Criticism of Willy
Why does Willy have these dreams?
Lit Crit
"To Willy it was his older brother Ben, who became a millionaire at a young age and kept admonishing Willy..Yet Willy constantly wants Ben's approval and is asking him how he managed to be so successful. Willy even views his son Biff's stealing as 'initiative.'"
Lit Crit
Lit Crit
"Willy sums up his approach to business-and life-to his son Biff and Happy. It is on appearances, above all else, that Willy's values rest. For Willy, appearance has become reality: saying something is so makes it so, insists salesman, never understanding that he has sold himself a false bill of goods...Charlie and Bernard actually accomplish things. Recognizing the limits that reality has placed on them, they are able to work effectively within those limits. For Willy, the world must be a place of boundless potential, of limitless promise; he dies without learning that it is not."
How Willy's dreams attributed to his death
Is the American Dream real?
pg 11 (Miler)
pg 105 (Miller)
pg 12 (Miller)
pg 111 (Miller)
pg 18 (Miller)
pg 6 (Miller)
pg 27 (Miller)
pg 29 (Miller)
pg 111 (Miller)
Full transcript