Material Success in Death of A Salesman

A look at the pursuit of material success in Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

This paper discusses the pursuit of the American Dream in Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman,” focusing on the quest for material success of Willy and Biff Loman. The paper focuses on perhaps the most evocative symbol of the American Dream that is home ownership, of making payments on a house and establishing stability and roots. The paper highlights how Miller seems to be saying that the Lomans’ lack of realism is the limiting factor, rather than the demise or illusoriness of the American Dream.
Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller’s best known tragedy, is set in the 1940’s and focuses on Willy Loman, a traveling salesman, husband and father of two sons. The play gives many perspectives on, and meanings to, the American dream, and shows what can happen when the dream becomes unfulfilled or distorted. The pursuit of this dream was to prove damaging for Willy Loman because of his fervent pursuit of wealth, prestige and material success. Believing that these goals were attainable was popularity, personality and personal attractiveness. Be liked and you will never want. (p.33) and Riding on a smile and a shoeshine, and . . . personality always wins the day. (p. 65) are the deceptions that Willy and contemporary American society are preoccupied with.

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