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Pronounced Dead Essay Research Paper Pronounced DeadNo

Pronounced Dead Essay, Research Paper Pronounced Dead No pain, no gain is a saying that is persistent in the American Society. It is thought that if you work hard, no matter what circumstances, you can become rich and powerful. You can overcome deep poverty to become the richest man alive. This superhuman absurdity is what is referred to as the “American Dream.” Day after day, Americans struggle to achieve fame and prosperity, only to find failure and heartbreak.

Pronounced Dead Essay, Research Paper

Pronounced Dead

No pain, no gain is a saying that is persistent in the American Society. It is thought that if you work hard, no matter what circumstances, you can become rich and powerful. You can overcome deep poverty to become the richest man alive. This superhuman absurdity is what is referred to as the “American Dream.” Day after day, Americans struggle to achieve fame and prosperity, only to find failure and heartbreak. The American Dream in today’s society is dead and is proven several times through plays, poetry, and essays.

The perfect example of the dysfunctional American Dream is that of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy innermost desires result in lies and extreme failure. James Lee says, “Arthur Miller’s tragic drama is a probing portrait of the typical American psyche portraying an extreme craving for success and superior status in a world otherwise fruitless.” In the business of sales there is room to either fail or succeed. Willy likes to think that if he’s just a nice guy he can be the best salesman ever. He continuously lies to himself, as well as his family, about his status in the business world (Miller, 49). He believes that he’s on the verge of success and it will come to him soon if he keeps working hard (Miller, 84). But in reality, the only kind of financial success is that of his brother Ben. In extreme contrast to the American Dream, Ben achieves quick money from a discovery in a foreign land (Miller, 67). James Lee points out:

“Ben is idealized by Willy since he fulfilled the genuine American Dream: to start out with nothing and eventually become rich through effort and hard work. Ironically, this wealth is achieved outside America suggesting that there is little left available for the ordinary individual within the country’s own boundaries.”

Willy sees this success and is painfully seeking it. He goes to such extremes that he fools himself into a deep state of depression (Clurman, 133). The Dream that Willy strives so badly to achieve is one filled with flaw upon flaw. First of all, he’s dreaming of all the wrong things. Biff says “He had all the wrong dreams. All, all wrong, he never knew who he was” (Miller, 177). Willy is a man of confusion and distress (Clurman, 134). He should be longing for things such as love and companionship rather than money (Garrison). Willy led a meaningless life where his wife was a part of the problem rather than the solution. Her supposed undying loyalty and love only fueled the fire rather than solve the problem (Garrison). “In her admiration of his dreams, it is lethal.” (Garrison). In the essence of support, Linda is Willy’s number one fan, but to no prevail, she only feeds his lies. Another problem of Willy’s dream is that he gives himself too much credit. He continually goes on in the play about how he is well know in all of New England as a great salesman (Miller, 121). But in actuality, he is a mediocre, aging has-been. He puts on a mask for the most detrimental person: himself. It is the lying to himself that kills Willy’s soul. His constant striving of a goal that a man of his nature just could never achieve is extremely harmful to his sanity. Biff says, “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you!” Willy replies, “I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!” (Miller, 165). Another problem with Willy’s dream is that he is never satisfied with what he has. He is in an imaginary world that thinks if he made just a little bit more money, or had one more appliance, that his life would suddenly transform to where he felt like a success (Lee). Willy is a perfect example of the American Dream failed. “Willy Loman is a symbolic icon of the failing America; he represents those that have striven for success but, in struggling to do so, have instead achieved failure in its most bitter form” (Lee).

In direct link to Death of a Salesman, the poem Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson comes to mind. The character Richard Cory had the most sought after qualities. He was rich and successful (Robinson). Everyone coveted what Cory possessed. People long to be in the position of this man (Robinson). Through and through, Cory is similar to Ben. He is put upon a pedal stool where all longingly admire the wealth and status of such characters. As Willy believes, the people that surround Cory believe that money and power solve all problems and that nothing could be wrong with Richard Cory. They think that he’s life is perfect because of the direct effect of his financial and social position (Robinson). Quoted from “The American Dream”:

“The title character has become the townspeople’s embodiment of the American dream by accumulating money and stature. But Richard Cory had lived a life of materialism and greed which became his perspective of the American dream. And when the dream became reality to him, he was struck by the bitterness of an end achieved. Richard Cory found his dream was hollow and meaningless, and out of confusion and hopelessness he took his own life.”

The people surrounding Cory continually thinks that he has it all just because of the money. Just like Willy, they perceive the American Dream to be about money, rather than it’s correct meaning. The American Dream in the true essence is that of accomplishment and happiness. The problem with the American Dream is not that it is dead, but people make it out to be something that it is not. Richard Cory and Willy Loman both wanted wealth. Cory achieved this only to realize that he still was not happy. “Richard Cory had everything the poor commoners dreamed for, but what they did not know was that he only desired what they had, love and companionship between people, a family who cared not for his wealth, but for his person” (The American Dream). Willy died striving for what he thought would be his dream come true. “Willy’s dream was so empty, he killed himself just to make money and prove that he could take initiative” (The American Dream). In the end, both men were disconnected from reality and the true meaning of life. They did not live in the world, but instead they lived for some other world, always striving for something that was just out of reach. Both characters were so unhappy with the values that they wanted that they took their own lives. “Robinson demonstrates that a life of materialism is an incorrect perspective of the American dream, which is better perceived as a pursuit of satisfaction and well being.” (The American Dream). All people fell as the commoners do in Richard Cory. They build fame and wealth up to be something that is constantly proven to be meaningless. Many celebrities will say that all the money in the world does not make them happy, but things such as their children and their family are what makes their hearts content. Michael Jordan once said, “I know may earning have been spread across the media, but money isn’t everything. The satisfaction of accomplishment, my family, and my God is what makes me feel like a success. The money is only a worldly procession that adds to the big picture” (Lopez). Each one had the most corrupted perspective of what the American Dream was, but at least in the end Cory realized that money was not what is about, but instead happiness and personal fulfillment.

The American Dream, in the way Cory and Loman dreamed it, is dead. If people only dreamed of good health and a happy home then the dream would be alive and well. Someone can work hard all their life, and earn the most money ever earned. But unless they have love and self-enjoyment, they will never hold anything that is worth having. Willy’s dream is dead, if only he had dreamed for better things.

Works Cited

The American Dream. http://www.mines.edu/students/a/ahopf/stories/Amerdr2.html. 1 Apr 01.

Clurman, Harold. Willy Loman and the American Dream. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1958.

Garrison, Craig. The System and the American Dream. http://www.worksoflit.com/deathofasalesman/e/americandream/ 30 Mar 01.

Lee, James. Shattered Dream- The Delusion of Willy Loman. http://www.classicnote.com/classicalnotes/titles/salesman/essays/ 30 Mar 01.

Lopez, Michael. One on One with Jordan. Sports Illustrated. May 00. 34.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press, 1949.

Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Richard Cory. Elements of Literature. ed: Richard Shime. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 645.

The American Dream. http://www.mines.edu/students/a/ahopf/stories/Amerdr2.html. 1 Apr 01.

Clurman, Harold. Willy Loman and the American Dream. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1958.

Garrison, Craig. The System and the American Dream. http://www.worksoflit.com/deathofasalesman/e/americandream/ 30 Mar 01.

Lee, James. Shattered Dream- The Delusion of Willy Loman. http://www.classicnote.com/classicalnotes/titles/salesman/essays/ 30 Mar 01.

Lopez, Michael. One on One with Jordan. Sports Illustrated. May 00. 34.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: The Viking Press, 1949.

Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Richard Cory. Elements of Literature. ed: Richard Shime. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2000. 645.

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