Death Of A Salesman And The Great

Gatsby Essay, Research Paper

Living Life for the Wrong Reasons

Existentialists believe that in order to have a meaningful life one must pursue realistic dreams. Willy Loman from the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, tries to succeed in life by getting people to like him. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald, lives his whole life trying to earn the love of one woman. Both of these men have unrealistic dreams that lead them to their deaths. Either it be love or success, the two men never realize the true meaning of life.

Willy Loman is a unique character in Death of a Salesman. He spends his whole life lying to his friends, his family and himself. He convinces everyone that his life is going well and that he is happy with his career. Biff, Willy?s son, comes to the realization that Willy has made him believe that he is going to become a great salesman. Biff tells Happy that Willy has only filled him up with lies his whole life, and Biff actually believes he really is going to be a great salesman. Willy doesn?t realize he?s lying to his son, or anyone. His whole life, all Willy wants is to die a great salesman, remembered by many. Instead of getting out in the world, and working for hard, Willy ends up making himself believe he?s already a great salesman.

Too succeed in the game of life, it?s not who you know, it?s how hard you try. The thing is, Willy never actually tried. For some reason, in Willy?s mind he had already tried and succeeded, but everyone around Willy knows better, except his own family. Willy tells Charlie about the old salesman he once met by the name of Dave Singleman. Dave dies at the age of eighty-four while selling merchandise. To Willy, that is his ultimate dream, the death of a salesman. Willy?s dream is unrealistic simply because he never gets anywhere in his career, because he doesn?t try. No matter who he knows, he still can?t be the best unless he gives it his best, which is his flaw.

After Willy?s death, Biff makes one important comment. He says, ?there?s more of Willy in that front stoop then of all the sales he ever made?. Biff means that his dad put more work into their house then he ever did with his own career. Willy should have become a carpenter. He never realizes the talent he has with working with his hands. He fixes this and that around the house, but thinks nothing of it. His life could have been more meaningful if he would have only chased the right dream.

Like they say, ?love hurts?. Some realize it, and some don?t. Jay Gatsby sadly never does. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby lives the majority of his life thinking he can repeat the past. Nick tells Gatsby ?you can?t repeat the past?. Gatsby replies, ?can?t repeat the past? Why of course you can!?(Fitzgerald 111). All Gatsby wants is Daisy. He believes he can get her back by simply trying to impress her with his money. What he doesn?t realize is that the past is the only thing he will ever be able to hold onto.

Gatsby knows what he wants, and all he ever has wanted is Daisy. What he doesn?t have to get Daisy is ?old money?. He may have more money than Tom, but he can?t compete with Tom?s family background, no matter how hard he tries. All the parties, gifts, and time spent on her, Gatsby?s dream will never be realistic. Even though Daisy lives across the bay, the two are in two different worlds. Gatsby truly believes Daisy has only loved him, and now can be with him since he has money. He tells Tom, ?She never loved you, do you hear? She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved anyone except me?(Fitzgerald 130). Like Willy, Gatsby has made himself believe that his unrealistic dream will come true.

If Gatsby could just realize Daisy is never leaving Tom for him, he may not have had to die. Nick knows all along that Daisy will never be with Gatsby because he can see the difference in their social status. Gatsby left college to move near Daisy and earn quick money. He could have become so much more if he stayed at Oxford. Nick says, ?He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him??. Nick is right, Gatsby had come a long way, but not far enough, the past is over with and Gatsby will never let that go.

Existentialists believe that we must make our lives as meaningful as possible because this is all we have, one life, no eternity. The irony with both characters is that they actually believe their lives have meaning. Although Willy and Gatsby tried to make the most out of their lives, they failed because they chased dreams that would never come true. Willy never pursues the right career and Gatsby never pursues the right woman. They are so blinded by their fixations they never realize their lives are pointless.


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