The Importance of Dreams

Category: Literature
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“Everybody has a dream that they thrive to achieve. One of the main characters, whose name is Willy Loman, in Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman, was no different. Unfortunately, Willy’s dream eventually led him to commit suicide in his later years due to the pursuit of his dream making him extremely unhappy. The American Dream was Willy Loman’s eventual downfall in his life which also led to his death.

Willy Loman, the salesman, is unsuccessful in his job and constantly talks down about his two sons who did not turn out as he had hoped or imagined. Willy was not able to keep up with the ever changing capitalistic ways of American Life with his failing job, which was heavily taxing on his psyche. After talking with his life insurance agent, Willy has increased the money his family would gain if he died which Willy has been attempting to for a long time. Happy, Willy’s youngest son, turned out to be a successful businessman, but he has cheated to get ahead and lies constantly to gain approval. A series of flashbacks reveal that Willy has been suicidal and his sons try to dispel their fathers suicidal tendencies by promising to go into business together. Biff, Willy’s eldest son, goes to try and obtain a loan to start a business, but ultimately fails, which motivates Willy to commit suicide to secure his son a future with the money from his life insurance. Despite Willy’s last wishes, his funeral has few attendees.

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Each character in Death of a Salesman has a dream, but the one dream that moves Willy Loman forward is the idea of the American Dream. This dream pushed most families in America to always want the newest and best appliances and other household commodities. Willy, with his failing career, is unable to keep up with the continuous advancements in America and has begun looking for a new way to secure a future for his sons. “I’m always in a race with the junkyard!” (Miller 54). In his pursuit of the American Dream, Willy has lost sight of what is important in life. “In his journey, Willy loses sight of what is important and becomes completely blinded by the riches that he would have been able to attain.” (Nothing More than a Dream, 2018). Biff had originally wanted to go to Virginia State and play football but because of him finding out about his father’s infidelity up in Boston, his dream was changed to going out west and being a farmer in Texas. “This farm I work on, it’s spring there now, see? And they’ve got about fifteen new colts. There’s nothing more inspiring or—beautiful than the sight of a mare and a new colt,” (Miller 11). Happy only has his sights set to have his father be proud of him, which he has been trying since he was much younger to accomplish. “The American Dream was Willy Loman’s eventual downfall in his life which also led to his death.” (Characters and Analysis, 2019).

The unhappiness Willy Loman felt with his career as a salesman is present in how he talks about his struggles with money. “By sacrificing himself at the end of the play in order to get his family the money from his life insurance policy, Willy literally kills himself for money.” (American Dream Theme Analysis, 2018). The anger Willy expresses towards his financial situation is ever present in his life both in the past and present. “A hundred and twenty dollars! My God, if business don’t pick up I don’t know what I’m gonna do!” (Miller 23). During this time, Willy was entirely focused on money and being successful that he forgot what was really important in life. “Because he is focused on financial success, he often ignores the more important things in life.” (Nothing More than a Dream, 2018). This unhappiness that Willy feels eventually led to his infidelity so that he could feel some happiness even when he was away from his home and family. “You know you ruined me, Willy? From now on, whenever you come to the office, I’ll see that you go right through to the buyers. No waiting at my desk any more, Willy,” (Miller 91). His infidelity was discovered and also kept a secret by his son Biff, who had a drastic change in character once he discovered this. The dream Willy had in his head put him in a situation where he could not go back due to his old age and his mind constantly slipping from reality. Being a salesman was not what Willy wanted, what he wanted was to be successful, however, due to his failing profession he would never get to see himself really become successful. “Willy Loman’s version of the Dream, which has been influenced by his brother Ben’s success, is that any man who is manly, good looking, charismatic, and well-liked deserves success and will naturally achieve it.” (American Dream Theme Analysis, 2018).

The American Dream was the dream that had consumed Willy’s life. Success was the only thing that Willy ever thought about. Once Biff flunked math in his last year of high school, Willy has never let his son live that down, not even after 10 years of not seeing him. “Bernard, that question has been trailing me like a ghost for the last fifteen years. He flunked the subject, and laid down and died like a hammer hit him!” (Miller 71). Biff was ready to enroll in summer school to make up the credit he needed to graduate high school and move on to college, but after he had gone to Boston to try and get Willy to go talk to his math teacher to give him the few points he needed to pass, Biff completely threw away this dream of college. Laying his eyes on Willy with another woman that was not his mother Linda had a major impact on his life and his aspirations. “And he came back after that month and took his sneakers—remember those sneakers with ‘‘University of Virginia’’ printed on them? He was so proud of those, wore them every day. And he took them down in the cellar, and burned them up in the furnace,” (Miller 72). Willy had never been proud of his sons who did not live up to his expectations. “The American Dream was Willy Loman’s eventual downfall in his life which also led to his death.” (Characters and Analysis – A Research Guide, 2019).

The American Dream was Willy Loman’s eventual downfall in his life which also led to his death. Willy had pushed his son Biff to being unsuccessful unintentionally and his other son Happy to be a cheat to stay ahead in life. After working as a salesman for his whole life, Willy was still unsuccessful and barely scraping by to make ends meet in the ever changing American way of life. The repercussions of which led Willy to commit suicide to give his family the money from his life insurance to be successful, where he was not able to.”

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The Importance of Dreams. (2021, Jun 16). Retrieved from