, Research Paper
In the plays Death of a Salesmen and Fences the two main characters Willy and Troy respectively, search for the American Dream. The American Dream is something that all-American citizens undergo and it is the hope for a better life. Though both people want the American dream, they both defeat themselves in different ways. Willy defeated himself by fearing the success that would come from the American dream. Troy the other hand, defeated himself with his overpowering anger.
In the play Fences by August Wilson, Troy is shown as a man who has hurt the people who are closest to him without even realizing it. He has acted insensitively and uncaringly to his wife, Rose, his brother, Gabriel and his son, Cory. At the beginning of the story, Troy feels he has done right by them. He feels this throughout the story, but doesn t realize how much he has hurt them.
Troy is the son of an abusive father. His father was never around to raise him. When he was there, he made him do chores and if he didn t do them, he would beat him. One time, after Troy tied up the mule, just as his father told him to, he went off to the creek with a girl to enjoy himself. The mule got loose and when his father found out he came looking for him. When he found them at the creek, he had the leather mule straps, started to beat Troy. Troy was naturally scared, so he ran away. He looked back at his father and realized that his father didn t care about beating him, he just wanted the girl. Troy came back, ripped the straps out of his father s hand. He then started to beat his father with them. His father, not afraid of Troy, beat up Troy. Troy was left there; his eyes were swelled shut. He didn t know what to do. He couldn t go back to his father s house, so he went to another town 200 miles away. This is when Troy became a man at the age of 14.
In the town, Mobile, it was hard for him to survive. He had to steal food, and eventually money. A man shot him after he tried to steal his money. Troy had his knife and started to stab him after he was shot. They told him that he killed the man. They put Troy in the state penitentiary for that. He spent 15 long years there. When he came out, he met Rose. Troy and Rose got married. At the time, Troy had a son from a previous marriage. He never spent time with this son, because he was in jail. After they were married, they had a son and named him Cory.
Troy thought that he was a good husband to Rose because he provided her with food and a house. He wasn t a good husband because he did not give her love and compassion. These two things are needed in order to have a good marriage. She centered her whole life on him and he gave her almost nothing. When she had a problem, she couldn t go to him. Troy also wasn t faithful to Rose. He went off and had an affair with another woman. Rose was heart-broken by this. She couldn t believe Troy could do this to her. She devoted her life to him and he went and stabbed her in the back. In addition to that, Troy which, had a child with his mistress. The woman died giving birth. Troy asked Rose to take care of the baby, Rose did. What else could she have done? Because of these actions, Troy was not a good husband.
Troy thought he was a good father because he put a roof over his son s head and fed him. Cory was scared of his father and he didn t really love him. Troy didn t want Cory to play football. This made Cory dislike him even more. He wanted Cory to work at the A&P. In Troy s mind this was a nice, safe job. He only did this because, his own childhood Troy wanted to play baseball but he couldn t because he was African American. Troy was afraid that his son would be better than he would. He also thought that the white people weren t going to let Cory play football. He thought they wouldn t give him a chance because he was a minority. Troy didn t realize that the times had changed since he was a boy. Black people now had chances too. Being a father is more than what Troy thought. You should love your son or daughter, and care for them. You should want to spend time with them and help them through life.
The play Death of a Salesman is centered on one man trying to reach the American dream and taking his family along for the ride. The Loman family life from beginning to end is a troubling story based on trying to become successful, or at least happy. Throughout the lives of Willy, his wife Linda and his two sons Biff and Happy, encounter many problems and the end result is a tragic death caused by stupidity and the need to succeed. During his life Willy Loman caused his wife great pain by living a life not realizing what he could and couldn’t do. Linda lived sad and pathetic days supporting Willy’s unreachable goals. Brought up in this world caused his children to lose their identity and put their futures in jeopardy.
Willy lived everyday of his life trying to become a successful, well-off salesman. The image he portrayed to others was a lie he was able to deceive even himself with it. He traveled around the country selling his merchandise and maybe when he was younger, he was able to sell a lot and everyone like him. Willy was still stuck with this image in his head and it was the image he let everyone else know about. In truth, Willy was a senile salesman who was no longer able to work. When he reaches the point where he no longer can handle working, but doesn’t realize it, he puts his life in danger as well as others just because he doesn’t understand that he has to give up on his dream. He complains about a lot of things that occur in everyday life, but he’s usually the cause of these problems. Willy should have settled with what he had and made the best of things. He shouldn’t have tried to compete with everyone and just made the best decision for himself using intelligence and practicality. Many of Willy’s problems were self-inflicted; the reason they were self-inflicted was because he wanted to live the American dream. If he had changed his standards or just has been content with his life, his problems would have been limited in quantity and proportion.
Willy’s problems in life were usually caused by his chase for the American Dream. Every problem he had and every upsetting or hostile moment he experienced was also inflicted upon Linda, his wife. The hell she went through everyday was because she was his wife. Linda took each day one at a time and each day was filled with stressful worrying about Willy. Imagine how she felt when she found out about Willy’s suicidal tendencies, she must have tried extremely hard, as not to take it personally. Linda tried as best she could to try and help Willy, but it wasn’t her fault that she was not able to get through to him. Willy did not respect Linda or give her the treatment and recognition she deserved. She spent the days mending her silk stockings, getting gray hair, and worrying about her husband s welfare. Meanwhile, Willy found companionship with numerous mistresses and gave away Linda’s well-deserved stockings. Linda agrees with everything Willy says and stays content throughout the whole play. The one time she explodes is when the boys came home from the restaurant after leaving Willy alone. She shows emotion and with a little anger and hostility her true feelings.
When they were small Biff and Happy’s all depended on the way they were brought up. Willy was the only one with any say in the way the kids were raised. Linda went along with whatever Willy said. Willy taught them that if they were handsome and successful, opportunity would come to you. Happy learned nothing from Willy’s demise, but insists that his father had “the only dream you can have- to come out number-one man”. Biff and Happy idolized their father when they were young. The stories they were told made them picture their father as a popular, successful, well-known salesman. As Biff grew up, he found himself being told things about his father like “A salesman has to dream it comes with the territory.” At the end of the story when Linda says they we free, Biff is free to realize his dream of owning a ranch out West where he can live close to the natural world. Biff also realizes that his father had the wrong dreams and didn’t know who he was. Biff is sure he won’t make the same mistakes his father did. Meanwhile, Happy is more like his dad, determined to stay in town and prove himself to everyone.
Although the Loman s lives were full of many problems, the problems were not an all caused by Willy striving for the American dream. Willy’s problems were caused by little decisions made throughout his life. He had a choice of whether or not to do something; he just made the wrong decision most of the time because he wanted to live the American dream. The majority of problems Willy encountered were decided upon with the idea of the American dream in mind. Although the end result of the problems were not purposely meant to turn out as bad as they usually did.
Willy Loman put his family through endless torture because of his search for a successful life. He should have settled with what he had and been happy. One dream is not worth all the pain and problems his caused, he should have learned to be content and, as harsh as it may be to believe, he should have realized what he could have accomplished and given up on his dream.
The American dream was a strong theme in both plays. In Fences Troy wants to encounter the American dream, but in the process he defeated himself. The same holds true for Willy from Death of a Salesman by defeating himself by his fare of success. These two plays while not having a lot in common hold one thing in common the search for the dream.