The American Dream that anyone can achieve financial success and material comfort lies at the heart of Death of a Salesman. Various secondary characters achieve the Dream in different ways: Ben goes off into the wilderness of Alaska and Africa and lucks into wealth by discovering a diamond mine; Howard Wagner inherits his Dream through his father's company; while Bernard, who seemed a studious bore as a child, becomes a successful lawyer through hard work. Willy Loman's version of the Dream, which has been influenced by his brother Ben's success, is that any man who is manly, good looking, charismatic, and well-liked deserves success and will naturally achieve it.
Over the course of his lifetime, Willy and his sons fall short of the impossible standards of this dream. But the real tragedy of the play is not that Willy fails to achieve the financial success promised in his American dream, but rather that he buys into the dream so thoroughly that he ignores the tangible things around him, such as the love of his family, while pursuing the success he hopes will bring his family security. By sacrificing himself at the end of the play in order to get his family the money from his life insurance policy, Willy literally kills himself for money. In the process, he demonstrates that the American dream, while a powerful vehicle of aspiration, can also turn a human being into a product or commodity whose sole value is his financial worth.
The American Dream ThemeTracker
The American Dream Quotes in Death of a Salesman
Dad is never so happy as when he's looking forward to something!
You - you gave her Mama's stockings!