Death of a Salesman

             The famous American rapper, Tupac Shakur, was once quoted as expressing the all too typical false hope many Americans possess: "Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real." Arthur Miller challenges his audience by strongly contradicting this statement through his play, Death of a Salesman. He uses models of success and failure, in his characters' lives, to show that though the American Dream is possible irregularly through luck and often though hard work, it is unrealistic, full of false hopes, and ultimately ends in utter failure when one is unable to keep things in perspective.
             Ben is an example of the minute portion of the population who are successful without much work. He is therefore living the American Dream, primarily through luck. Ben started out poor and ends up acquiring a lot of money. He ends up achieving the goal Willy is striving to reach. Miller allows Ben to explain how he did this by simply saying, "when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich."(42) Ben did not achieve this in an honorable fashion like other characters. This is evident when Ben tells Biff to, "never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You'll never get out of the jungle that way."(43) Willy fallaciously believes this is how you become successful. Willy wants to be, and wants his children to be like Ben in his achievement of the societal definition of success. Willy reacts to the news of his brother's riches differently than he reacts to most peoples success: "...was rich! That's just the spirit I want to imbue them with! To walk into a jungle!" (46) Willie believes because some are rich, others may become rich, and this positively reinforces his tact and unfeasible ambitions.
             Miller uses the neighbors, Charlie and Bernard, to contrast Willy and his sons' failures. Charlie is able to achieve prominence by using an entirely different approach. He is able to put things in perspective, recog...

More Essays:

APA     MLA     Chicago
Death of a Salesman. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 12:20, December 09, 2016, from