Discuss the importance of dreams in the play 'Death of A Salesman'

Essay by JadaontheradarHigh School, 12th gradeB, May 2006

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The play, 'Death of a Salesman', uses Willy Loman's frequent day dreams to give the audience insight into his mind. Viewing the hallucinations allows the audience to see important events in the Loman families past and also provides justification for the actions of the characters in the 'real time' of the play. Willy's fantasies are crucial to the development and structure of the play. This essay will outline the importance of dreams within 'Death of a Salesman' focusing in particular on the prominent theme of the American Dream.

"Death of a Salesman" strongly presents some of the ideology of the American Dream. Willy Loman himself strongly believes that to achieve complete satisfaction in life, a man must be popular, successful and affluent. Throughout the play, Willy constantly talks of owning his 'own business'. Willy feels that he is an inadequate person if he is not 'well liked' or able to afford expensive material possessions like a luxurious refrigerator or a 'chevvy'.

Willy's obsession with owning material goods is very much linked to the theme of the American Dream mirroring a capitalist society. Within a capitalist society, only a few members are allowed to be successful. This reflects the reality of the American Dream where the minority has prospered and are happily living the American Dream whereas the rest of society lurches through life feeling miserable and inadequate. This feeling of failure is reflected in the actions and dialogue of Willy Loman. Willy feels that he needs the material possessions, popularity and money to prove himself a worthy member of American society. Without it he feels like a failure.

The American Dream as an important theme in the play also explains all of the male members of the Loman family's pressure to succeed. All the Loman men desperately strive...