Lost in the American Dream in 'Death of a Salesman'

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.

In Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," the American Dream is never so terrible as when you get it wrong.

The American Dream has been turned over and pawed at by some of the best writers this country has ever produced, but it's arguable that no one ever got at the dangers of that dream as well as Arthur Miller did. In doing so, he also created one of the great works of American theater in "Death of a Salesman."

Willy Loman is a salesman who returns home after a failed business trip to face again the problems at home. His son Biff was a high school football star who then flunked senior math and has been drifting ever since. Willy is a man who longs for the tangible proof of success for himself and his family. His need for that kind of success is his undoing in the end.

Willy Loman believes in the American Dream, a world where a man who is "well liked" and "personally attractive" will naturally have the material comforts of success handed to him.

Loman is so caught up in what he thinks should be success - a job where he doesn't work with his hands, a successful businessman-type son - that he never goes after what he loves. In chasing the "American Dream" Loman loses any chance of finding his own happiness.

The American Dream is something we're all struggling after, but what happens if you get it wrong? That's the question Miller asks and lets Willy Loman answer in his play.

It's a great play and the Alley Theatre in Houston always puts on a good show, so hie yourself to see it. It's well worth the price of a ticket.



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