Arthur of said results in economic prosperity had been

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is a dramatic play that explores the
consequences of an evolving, industrialized American society – a society that
prizes material possessions and status over humankind. Miller portrays this
devastating image of the American Dream through Willy Loman, a foundering
salesperson whose economic ambition is achievable exclusively through the
ability to be charismatic and well-liked. Evidently, Loman’s principle remains
contradictory with the mechanisms of the newfound capitalist-driven society, and
ultimately drives the protagonist to his death in the ultimate conquest for
financial glory. This written task will analyse Miller’s outlook on the
American Dream through the characters developed throughout the play, as well as
explore the significance of this view.

Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman provides a critical outlook on the American
dream.

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Shortly
after the end of world war 2, the United States of America – the setting of
Miller’s Death of a Salesman –
experienced a period of substantial economic growth referred to as the period
of the Post-War Economy. It spanned
from 1945 to 1960. Some of the causes of this economic prosperity had been due
to the exploded success of the automobile industry and housing sector alongside
new hungry business conglomerates determined for a growing middle class. The
effects of said results in economic prosperity had been the undermining of
labor militancy (increase in employee benefits, long-term contracts, guaranteed
wages) and an increase in white collar-jobs, such as office workers, managers
and salesmen.

Such rapid economic and social change had
inspired Miller to investigate the implications of an increasingly itemized
society on the average proletariat. One of which can be understood, is the idea
that this new economically prospering society, has driven its’ own citizens to
unhealthy levels of consumerism, to the point where affluence, which was once
purposed to benefit the working class, (financial security) has become so
inflated, it now ironically destroys the people instead, depriving them of
their dreams and liberty. For example, the scene (132) between a distraught Biff
and Willy: “I am not a leader of men…I’m
not bringing home any prizes any more, and you’re going to stop waiting for me
to bring them home!” gives insight into the effects of a decadent society,
where the mediocre man is faced with the pressure to achieve extravagance. Biff
the metaphorical representative of the proletariat – or working class – is
faced with the increasing demand by an aspiring Willy to reach a higher
socioeconomic status; “The door of your
life is wide open!” Willy exclaims “with
hatred, threateningly”. “I am not a
dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman”. In contrast to a
distraught Biff – whom seeks a less indulgent and excessive life, but a modest
and liberating one – Willy ignorantly continues to demand an unachievable
lifestyle for Biff, blinded by the dazzling ornaments of the American Dream, he
does not realize the push for extravagance deprives Willy and his family of a happier
life they could have now, albeit a more modest one; Willy chooses to
relentlessly and pointlessly chase the American Dream despite the disconnect it
harbours between him and his loving family.

Additionally, Miller demonstrates that
although the American Dream is possible to achieve, it is deceptively alluring
and only a small percentage of people achieve it through hard work. Miller
communicates that moving to the top of the social hierarchy from the working
class is near impossible, and that most achievers of the Dream had been
extremely lucky. For example, Ben adventures through the wilderness of Alaska
and Africa lucking into discovering a diamond mine; Howard Wagner inherits his
father’s company; Bernard works hard to become a successful lawyer, which is an
example of the utmost rarest cases.

A rather pessimistic view of this new
industrialized American Dream, this furthers Miller’s idea that the struggling
proletariat experiences an inflated and impossible goal to be economically
extravagant. For example, Willy – part of the working class/proletariat – wildly
influenced by his brother’s lucky success, strives to achieve the American
Dream in a similar way as Ben did. Ignoring the diligence and wisdom one must have
to become successful, Willy Loman consistently pursues a delusional path of
luck and charisma that cannot be superficially created but only granted as a birthright
(Howard Wagner for instance): “It’s who
you know and the smile on your face! It’s contacts, Ben, contacts!…a man can
end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked!”. Notice Willy’s
mention of diamonds pertains to the success of his brother Ben; which harbours
a deceptive image of the American Dream. This highlights the idea that despite
the economic flourishment of US at this time, the proletariat is arguably
deprived of their financial liberty more than ever, again, advancing Miller’s
idea that the proletariat is faced with excessive pressure to become
financially extravagant in a mechanical, monotonous society. The American Dream
which at times can serve to aspire individuals, is for many striving individuals
an illusion that with over-obsession, can harbour more disconnect than
betterment. This very idea had been exemplified when Willy literally kills
himself for money, sacrificing himself in vain to supply his family with funds
from his life insurance policy.

Overall, In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, he explores the
implications of a growing materialistic society. With increasing pressure on
the working proletariat to achieve economic stardom, alongside illusory
portrayals of the American Dream, he conveys his ideas through his developed
characters, primarily through the main protagonist Willy Loman and his son
Biff, in representing the struggles of the working class in said society.
Ultimately, in a magnificent strive for financial glory, it is only through
death, Miller argues, that the struggling proletariat may finally achieve the
American Dream.

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