What is the American Dream

What is the American Dream?  Describe in the light of ‘Death of a Salesman. 


The American dream has much populated by the drama “Death of Salesman”(1949) which is written by Arthur Miller (1915-2005). In the drama, the dramatist has lain bare about the American dream. That is why, at first, we should know about the American Dream.

What is the American Dream

American Dream

The first use of the word “American dream” was made by James Truslow Adams (1878-1949). The quote “American Dream” from the book “American Epic” has made him something of concern. According to the American dream, life should be developed and enriched for everyone, regardless of social class or birth status. The concept of the American dream arises with the Declaration of Independence in the United States in which it has been declared that “all men are created equal” that they are “endowed by their creator with certain unabated Rights” including the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. To put it differently, the American dream means high ambition which illustrates that a man will be a successful man. He must have a car, house, business, and will certainly be an honorable person. His sons will attend the famous school-college. However, we will prove that “Death of Salesman” is filled with the American dream.

Click here: For All Notes of Drama

Supreme professionalism

At the beginning of the play, we see that Willy Loman has been working for a company as a traveling salesman for almost 36 years, but now he is not paid because of his poor performance in selling goods. But he wants to be the top salesman. Contrarywise, Willie Loman’s son, Biff Loman, does not have a specific job. He has refused twenty to thirty jobs. He refused the job because he was not satisfied. He wants to do better than that. This is an example of ultimate professionalism. But Willy Loman’s neighbor and friend Charley is a very successful businessman and his son Bernard is now a successful lawyer in Supreme Court. Bernard was Biff’s classmate in high school but Biff could not even pass high school because he failed in mathematics. Biff’s failure in education did not matter to Willy because he wanted to see his son as a successful businessman. Thus, it is noticed that from the professional point of view, the American Dream exists in the play “Death of a Salesman”.

Click here: for all notes of Death of a Salesman 

The tendency for quick success

The tendency for quick success is one of the most visible characteristics of the American Dream. In the drama, the elder brother of Willy Loman Ben had been a successful businessman at age of 21. He had got mine of diamonds.

“The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle and comes out, the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich!”

We can calculate that Ben is a perfectly successful man. In this way, Ben is the paradigm of quick success and Willy Loman wants to be a successful businessman like Ben but he fails in his life until his death.

Running after name, fame, and money

In “Death of a salesman”, Miller has shown the success of Charley, Bernard, Ben. Charley has become a successful man because of his careful and cautious approach to life and Bernard has been a well-respected lawyer through hard Labor. On the other side, we have seen that Ben is a successful businessman. he boasts that he entered the ‘jungle’ when he was seventeen and when he came out at twenty-one he was rich by the grace of God.

“When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich.”

Actually, Ben had achieved success in Africa. These characters symbolize the American Dream since they have been able to achieve name, fame, and wealth. Likewise, Willy Loman, Happy Loman, and Biff Loman wanted to succeed in their life. But it regrettable that the father and sons have failed. For the money, Willy Loman commits suicide by the name of the car accident because, after his death, his family will get twenty-thousand dollars from the insurance policy which will be much helpful for the family.  So, whatever the lifestyle is led by the characters of the play is based on the American Dream.

Self-prestige and ignorance

American people have self-prestige and ignorance. We see that Willy Loman borrows money from Charley for maintaining family because he doesn’t get a fixed salary from the Wagner Company. He thinks this does not hamper his self-fame but When Charley offers him a job, he does refuse it being concerned for his egoism. It proves that the American people have much ignorance.

Ultimate Power

Ultimate Power is the feature of the American Dream. We have got to see that when Biff and Happy have taken the decision that they will start a business. They need much money that is why Biff goes to his old Boss for taking loans but his boss even refuses to identify him, let alone providing loans. For the money, Biff has to wait for six hours. Now therefore it is proved that Biff’s boss Bill Oliver has the ultimate power as an investor. So, it is not faulty to be the pursuer of the American Dream.


In termination, we can say that Willy Loman is an American man that is why he has dreamed of the “American Dream”. But he failed to pick up the American Dream. However, he has sacrificed his life for his sons. As if, they can persuade the American Dream.

Biswazit Kumar
Biswazit Kumar
Articles: 64

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