American Dream Essay, Research Paper
The American Dream
What is the American Dream? Is it fame? Is it fortune? President Franklin
Roosevelt explained the American Dream as freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. (AAC) I think that the
American Dream is different for everyone. It is simply the urge for a better life.
The American Dream is still valid but is totally different from what it used to be.
For the early immigrants the American Dream was a better life not with
material goods, but by freedom. Freedom to worship whoever they want.
Freedom to say whatever they want without fear of being arrested or shot. (AAC)
This Dream stayed with America untill the 1900’s. That’s when things started to
change. Norman Rockwell was a famous artist during 1910’s through the 1930’s.
Rockwell drew pictures of the American dream during his time. His art of the
American dream consisted of families having a great time, or of a happily
married couple. (Rockwell) The American Dream was happiness with a family or
a loved one.
The ending of war caused the American Dream to completely changed. I
think it’s because we no longer had to worry about freedom, we filled the gap of
freedom with wealth.The American Dream is now to marry a beautiful wife, start
a family, and become rich. It’s turned into greed. Everyone’s dream is to become
just like Bill Gates. People no longer do their work because they enjoy it. They
do their work because of the money. A perfect example of this is pro baseball.
When Major League Baseball first started the players did it because they loved
the game and loved playing in front of the huge audiences. They got paid low
wages but still plated the game because they loved it. Major League players
these days complain because they’re not getting paid enough when they are
making millions of dollars a year. Kids set their goal to become a pro baseball
player so that they can earn millions of dollars too.
Arthur Miller does a great job illustrating the new, corrupted American
Dream in his play “Death of a Salesman.” Arthur Miller shows us that the
American Dream is valid, but those who hope to substitute popularity and lucky
breaks for hard work are likely to fail. Miller does this by using characters such
as Willy Lowman who can’t achieve his American Dream of becoming rich and
In Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman makes two grave mistakes
while trying to achieve his American Dream. Willy grew up believing that being
“well-liked” was important to becoming a success. (Death, Homewok hotline) He
believed that being well-liked could help you charm your boss and open doors in
the business world. (Garrison) A perfect example is on page 64 when Willy is
preparing Biff for a job interview with Oliver. He says “Don’t wear a sport jacket
and slacks when u see Oliver. Wear a business suit, and talk as little as
possible, and don’t crack any jokes.” (Miller, Death of a Salesman) This just
shows how worried he is about being accepted. I think this is what caused Willy
to fail. He worked his hardest trying to suck up to people and become popular
when he should have just worked harder at his job.
Miller also uses Charlies son Bernard to contrast Willie’s thoughts and
help show that anyone can achieve their American Dream. Willy thinks Bernard
is a physically unattractive, spectacles-wearing, anemic, pathetic little lad.
(Elsom) Bernard gives Biff the right answers to the exams in math. In exchange
for this, Biff lets Bernard carry his shoulder pads into the locker room at game
time so that he can get some attention and feel like “part of the group.” Bernard
is not “well liked.” by his former class mates at all. He is the total opposite of Biff.
Bernard and Willie run into each other at the end of the play at Charlie’s office.
Bernard tells him that he has a case in Washington and Willy says “How did
you? Why didn’t he ever catch on?”(Miller 92) Miller says this because he is
amazed that Bernard got as far as he did. He doesn’t understand why Biff didn’t
get anywhere. It proves to him that you don’t have to be well liked at all to
Willie’s corrupted view of the American Dream also included the belief
that successful people were risk-takers. He thinks that people take risk in order
to “get rich quick.” (Murray) He regrets the fact that he always turned down his
brother’s offer to move to Alaska to make his fortune. He took the huge risk of
trusting Biff to get him to his American dream. (Gardener) He thought that once
Biff became the star athlete, that he could start a successful sporting goods
company. He believes people would be drawn to the company by Biff’s
charisma, athletic ability, and Loman name. Willy should not have put the fate of
his dream into Biff’s hands. Miller had Biff fail to show us what can happen if you
take a huge risk like that and it fails.
Another commonly stated reason for Willie’s failure is the fact that he
chose the wrong career. He truly believed that he was born to be a salesman
and that was how he would make his fortune and gain his success. Since he
chose the wrong profession there is no way that he can succeed. According to
Chester Eisinger, people do not achieve their dream if they choose the wrong
one, and they usually choose the wrong dream because they do not know
Miller also shows us that the American dream is now corrupt and greedy
compared to what it used to be. He shows us that family is one of the most
important elements in the American dream and Miller expresses this many times
throughout the novel. He did this by having Willie’s American Dream cause
problems in his family and personal life. As Willie is trying to pursue his dream
he often lets the family down. There are many flashbacks in the novel to the time
where they lived in Nebraska and how everyone was happy. Willy had a decent
job with good hours and got to spend plenty of his time with his family. He may
not have been the richest or most popular man but he had his freedom, family,
and happiness. If Willy would have never of had such a corrupt American dream
and would have kept it simple he would have lived a happy successful life. This
is Millers way of showing us not to be greedy.
Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” provides substantial evidence that
their is still and American Dream today. Most people dream of fortune and fame
but there is still that 10% that dream for a job they enjoy and strive for a lovely,