”Willy Loman is the embodiment of the broken american dream” Death of a Salesman is centered around one man trying to reach the American dream and taking his family along for the ride. The result is Willy Loman destroying himself trying to seek material happiness and achieve his ”American Dream”, rather than live it. It made his wife Linda live sad and pathetic days supporting Willy’s unreachable goals, and being brought up in this world caused his children to lose their identity and put their futures in jeopardy.
Yet, the dream that destroys Willy is not one that he has chosen, but one is forced upon him by society. Willy Loman spends the expanse of the play trying to achieve wealth, fame, and the like of others. These ideas epitomize the American Dream, which traditionally meant opportunity and freedom for all, and Willie believed that. Willy’s true dream, however, was very different from this. Throughout the play you can see evidence that Willy feels trapped by this dream that he feels obligated to fulfill, as society has dictated him that the American Dream is “the” dream, and no other dream is acceptable.
Because of this, Willy abandons his true dream of living on his own, in the country, where he can support himself by farming, and living from the land. The proof of Willy’s true dream appears in short scattered bits. “Me and my boys in those great outdoors! ” he cries at the idea of moving away from the city. But the idea is quickly killed by the society surrounding him, forcing it back into the subconscious of Willy’s mind, where it remains for the duration of the play, only surfacing at a few times, when the dream that Willy is trying to fulfill becomes so horrible that he remembers that he had another dream.
Willy’s wife Linda is extremely supportive and is Willy’s only connection to reality, as while trying to pursue this dream, Willy’s mind slowly drifted further and further away from reality. And while raising his boys and trying to instill his “American Dream”, he fails to teach them any sense of morality, leading them down to what he feels is the wrong path, ” Why is he stealing? What did I tell him? I never in my life told him anything but decent things. ” (Act 1) Willy believes that being “well liked” and working hard will be enough to ensue his success.
Thus he judged himself and those around him by their material accumulation. His self-image that he portrayed to others was a lie and he was even able to deceive himself with it. He traveled around the country selling his merchandise and maybe was succesful at it when he was younger, but now Willy is still stuck with this image in his head and its that image that he lets everyone else know about. In truth, Willy is a senile salesman who is no longer able to do what he’s done for a lifetime.
When he reaches the point where he can no longer handle working, he doesn’t realize it but he puts his life in danger as well others’ just because he’s stubborn and doesn’t understand that he has to give up on his dream. Many of Willy’s problems were self-inflicted as he wanted to live the American dream. His desire for goods makes him want objects that he neither needed nor could afford. He thinks, for example, that he needs to buy his wife a new refrigerator and new stockings even though she is content with what they have.
If he had just been content with his life, his life problems would have been limited in amount and proportion. At the same time as he tries to live the American dream, Willy venerates those who have been successful at doing so, such as Ben, his successful brother. Furthermore he punishes those who don’t work towards that ideal,such as Biff, his son, and most importantly himself. The extreme to which he followed the dream brought him to disillusionment and made him lose sense of reality. He lost sight of achieving the true goal of the American Dream; happiness and freedom.
He struggled to achieve something that he could not; he did not have the talent to be a salesman. He became so obsessed with living the dream that he was unable to be content with his talents in carpentry and with his family. Thus he lived the quest of the dream and not the dream itself, which led him to creating a reality for himself. And so throughout the story, Willy often has flashbacks which are now intertwined in past and present. Ben: “Is mother living with you? ” Willy: “No, she died a long time ago. These flashbacks illustrate Willy’s loss of reality from the world, and as a character, Ben represents the opportunity that Willy did not take and all the fortune that he missed. The ultimate result of his disillusionment is his suicide. In the climax of the play, when Willy realizes that he is loved by his sons, he begins to understand that his true dream, of living in the country, is identical to that of his beloved son, Biff. Biff has never been able to follow his dream because of his father pushing him into the false dream of being a businessman.
Willy comprehends that he has been denying his son of the dream that he wishes to achieve, and out of pure love kills himself, giving his life insurance to his family, and completes the dream of being wealthy, hoping that completing the false dream will free his sons of the burden to finish it for him, allowing them to create their own dreams, and then follow them with the money that Willy leaves behind. The fact that he dies for his ideals although they are misconstrued is somewhat ironic.