"Death Of A Salesman" And "Raisin In The Sun"

2216 words - 9 pages

Since the establishment of the Thirteen Colonies, Americans developed an unordinary dream. It was a vision held by many who believed that through hard work, courage, and determination they could achieve a better life for themselves; this was the American Dream. Unfortunately, the hard hits from the Great Depression and the two World Wars brought the need for immediate economic prosperity. It diverted the people of the 1950s from adhering to the traditional work ethic, and pinned their hopes on what they perceive as "easy" money. Willy Lomen, from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and Walter Lee Younger, from Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, were portrayed as victims of their quest for the American Dream. Their pursuit for the illusion of the Dream rather than the reality and their unwillingness to give in due to their pride resulted in devastating failures and the findings of their true identity. Willy and Walter's illusion of the American Dream could still be seen today as addicted gamblers spend their time in casinos.Although both Willy Lomen and Walter Lee Younger were victimized due to their false interpretation of the American Dream, the ways the characters went about in trying to fulfill their twisted Dream was different; Willy, on one hand, focused on being well liked as the key to obtaining the American Dream, while Walter believed in the idea of a scheme. Arthur Miller, playwright of the Death of a Salesman, described Willy Lomen as a traveling salesman who continued to encounter frustration and failure as he struggled to accomplish his idea of the American Dream. Although Willy had good intentions, his tragic flaw was that he focused only on the appearance of the American Dream and never on the reality, the work ethic, on how to achieve it. He even told his sons, Biff and Happy, that he would be more successful than Uncle Charley one day because Uncle Charley was not well liked.WILLY: ... I'll have my own business, and I'll never have to leave home any more.HAPPY: Like Uncle Charley, heh?WILLY: Bigger than Uncle Charley! Because Charley is not - liked. He's liked, but he's not - well liked. (30)Willy believed wholeheartedly in what he considered the promise of the American Dream--that a "well liked" and "personally attractive" man in business would indubitably and deservedly acquire the material comforts offered by modern American life. However, as years passed, Willy finally became a victim of his Dream. He never became successful. In fact, he had to borrow fifty dollars from Charley every week, the very man who he criticized; in addition, he told his family that it was his salary. When Willy was fired from his job and needed money to pay for insurance, he once again turned to Charley for help. Charley explained to Willy that the bottom line of business is selling and buying, not being liked. Charley was successful because of lifelong hard work and not because of the illusions of social popularity and physical appearances....

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