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American Dream Essay Research Paper The American

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

become successful.

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

themselves (Eisinger).

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,

attached family.