Death of a Salesman

Length: 3 Pages 796 Words

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, bo Continue...


Miller shows America is sometimes indescribably cruel and at other times very compassionate. For Happy, Biff, and Willy, having faith in the American dream ends up in brutal disappointment. Willy reacts to the news of his brother's riches differently than he reacts to most peoples success: ". Willy wants to be, and wants his children to be like Ben in his achievement of the societal definition of success. However, Willy takes offense by responding, "don't insult me. When Biff and Willy are finally forced to face the foul destiny of their lives, he goes to Washington to plead a case before the Supreme Court. Miller does an excellent job of modeling failure through Happy, Biff and Willy, which the audience can relate to. Although Biff achieves ultimate self-knowledge and realization of the truth, he does not find his place in society. Regardless of this, he is destined for failure because he has never allowed himself to turn his face toward defeat. "(43) Willy fallaciously believes this is how you become successful. In response to Biff's comment about being a nobody, Willie replies, "I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman. You'll never get out of the jungle that way. He is consumed in jealousy, selfishness, and pride and he takes an opposite approach to success.