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      The System

      and the American Dream

      *DEATH OF A SALESMAN*

      Craig M. Garrison

      There is something magical and sometimes overpowering to the majority of mankind: It is the thing that allows people to live in mansion's with helipad's as well as underground society forced to live in the many tunnels and passageways under New York City and to beg for their meals. Although this is definitely the extreme that I have described. It is sometimes indescribably cruel and other times very gracious. This thing that I write about is the American system. In Arthur Miller's moving and powerful play, "Death of a Salesman", Miller uses many character to contrast the difference between success and failure within the system. Willy is the dreamy salesman whose imagination is much larger than his sales ability, while Linda is Willy's wife who stands by her husband even in his absence of realism. Biff and Happy are the two blind mice who follows in there father's fallacy of life, while Ben is the only member of the Loman family with that special something needed to achieve. Charlie and his son Benard, on the other hand, enjoy better success in life compared to the Lomans.


      The play romanticizes the rural-agrarian dream but does not make it genuinely available to Willy. Miller seems to use this dream merely to give himself an opportunity for sentimentality. The play is ambiguous in its attitude toward the business-success dream, but does not certainly condemn it. It is legitimate to ask where Miller is going. And the answer is that he has written a confused play because he has been unwilling or unable to commit himself to a firm position with respect to American culture. Miller prepares us for stock response-relief in escape to the West and the farm; firm satisfaction in the condemnation of the tawdry business ethic.1and then denies us the fulfillment of our expectations. The play makes, finally, no judgment on America, although Miller seems always on the verge of one, of telling us that America is a nightmare, a cause of and a home for tragedy. But Willy is not a tragic hero; he is a foolish and ineffectual man for whom we feel pity. We cannot equate his failure with America's (Eisinger .0 p. 174. Indeed, there is a lot of room for failure as well as great success in America. The system is not the one to blame. Willy can only blame himself for not becoming what he wanted to be.


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