The American Dream has been an idea that everyone has their right to happiness, and the utmost standard of living. The dream suggest that everyone should have equal opportunities as long as that individual works hard for what they want. But it seems as if some individuals are more fortunate to gain what they specify as the American Dream, while others are not. What is so special about the American dream is that it varies from person to person. Individuals can believe that the American dream is about owning land with a nice house and a big white fence while others can assume it is about having fame and fortune.
When achieving the American dream there is an assumption that an individual can come into a God-like state. The God-like state can be perceived as a person who is glorified by others, or someone who has obtained a significant amount of success, and recognition by obtaining their American Dream. This person is well liked by others, and is often used as a symbol of what success looks like. That’s why in Death of a Salesman it is so important to gain the American Dream because then that individual will be seen as a god amongst others, and ultimately will be seen as important person in society.
In the Death of a Salesman the reader can see how obtaining the American Dream has uplifted some characters into a Gold-like state and how some characters have not reached that state of mind. In the play Ben is one of the characters that has reached his American Dream and has now become like a God to some. In the play Ben always likes to state the same rhetoric to get applause and admiration from his brother Willy. For example, Ben says, “William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen, When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich! ” (Miller 1065).
When Ben boast about his success, he comes off as arrogant. To Willy Ben is a god because of his success, and he always wants Ben to teach his son and himself how he gained so much wealth so easily with ought much effort. For example, Willy states, “Ben! I’ve been waiting for you so long! What’s the answer? How did you do it? ” (Miller 1063). Ben is perceived as the man with all the answers . Ben gets a lot of praise from his brother and that furthers pushes Ben into a God-like state. Willy personifies Ben God-like state because he worships him and he is as an important figure in his life.
Sister, M. Bettina implies that, “Ben personifies his brother’s dream of easy wealth” (Np). Because Ben never really tells Willy how he gained so much fortune, Willy speculates that it has to come from having a great personality. Ben has instilled faulty values in his brother which we see that he passes on to his sons. Ben gives no explanation on how he gains success which keep Willy always guessing on how he and his sons can gain access to the American Dream. Ben is someone who will do anything to get what he wants. For instance, in Death of a Salesman Biff is sparing with Ben but then Ben says to Biff “Never fight fair with a Stranger” (Miller 1064).
Even though Ben is Biff uncle he teaches him to be untrustworthy. Ben has reached a God-like state of mind because of the admiration he gets from his brother. Ben can easily influence Willy to do anything for him because of the way Willy worships him. Willy never being able to reach his American Dream stems from the false pretense he has set in his house hold. For example, in the Psychological Politics of the American Dream: Death of a Salesman and the Case for an existential Dialectics, by Lois Tyson sates that “For him (Willy), the road to the American Dream is paved with a winning personality….
Because, as Willy observes, a rich man is always well liked, being well liked, he concludes, must be how poor men becomes wealthy” (263). Willy believes that being liked will help him become successful, but not only successful he wants an easy route to become successful. Willy looks up to his brother so much he wants the exact same recognition as his brother. According to Lois Tyson, “… Willy desires: the admiration of financially successful, powerful men like his brother, the admiration on receives for achieving the American dream’s” … 264).
Willy wants to be a God like figure to others just like the men he admired. For example, Centola claims that Willy would like to be just like Dave Singleman an eight-four-year-old seller who was very popular in the selling world. He could pick up a phone and buyers would come from all around (5). Willy yearns for the acknowledgement of those men that he looked up to had. Willy will even die to prove how much he is idolized by a certain group of individuals if that what it takes to be seen as an important figure.
Willy believes success comes when those around you acknowledge your accomplishments. Willy has unfortunately never had any true guidance which is why he believes every word his brother says, he has never had the fair chance of becoming himself and being great. According to Gali Benziman, “willy’s stream of consciousness, presented as a reality on stage, indicates the extent to which he has been brainwashed by materialistic and competitive values of his social and professional environment, as well as by his own choice of the particular role model that he, admires his brother” (26).
Willy ultimately has been misinformed on how to obtain the American dream which is why he never obtained it. Instead of gaining it he has plagued his family with his mental crisis and unfortunately ruined his sons in their adult life. Willy also has instilled faulty morals in his sons. According to Arthur Miller, Willy has told his son that their friend Bernard will not be a success in the work force because he is not well liked (1057). Willy sends the message to his sons that if you are not liked you will not gain success. Willy believes that those who gain their American dream are well liked.
Willy only knows a little about being admired only because he lies to his sons, and makes himself out to be someone he is not. Willy has only a little knowledge of what being idolized feels like. According to Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Willy sons look up to him, Biff even states that he was “Lonesome for him” (1055). When Willy is praised by his sons makes him feel important. Willy strives for everyone around him to admire him like his sons once did. Willy’s son at their young age look up to their father making him a god to them.
The only admiration Willy has ever had is that which come from a father son bond. Miller also implies that when Willy goes to New England, he is so important that the people protect his car as if it were his own. Willy tells his sons that he is a big man in New England which gives him a confidence boost. The lies he tells revels he cannot adjust to the fact that he has not acquired his American Dream. Willy has not reached a God-like state of mind because he has not done anything special that makes him valuable to society. No one looks up to Willy because he is manipulative and he does not live in reality.
Willy has not gained any success in his life and because of that he is not a symbol of success, therefore keeping him in a worshiper state of mind. Willy can never reach a God like state because he was too occupied with the success of his sons. He has had some instances were he could be God like, but that admiration only came from his sons who were too young to realize their father was a delusional mess. One he lost the respect of his son he had become worthless. Then there is Biff, he had reached the height of his success in his teenage years. His leadership skills were very apparent in his young age and he had been idolized by many.
Miller present Biff as a big influence on his peers, so when he commands them to clean up his home, sweep the floors, and bring up his mother’s laundry there was no rebuttal they were all quick to oblige (1057). Biff has reached a God-like state because he has a significant amount of influence on those around him. He has in this short amount of time gained respect e gained respect and a few achievements that got him a lot of attention. Biff had a lot going for himself. He had schools baiting him, girls, and the utmost love from his father. Irving states that, Biff was loved by everyone.
The girls wanted to be around him so much that they would pay for him on dates, His friend waited on him hand and foot, and Biff was admired by all (251). Biff had a big presence that surrounded him. Biff was idolized so much that even Willy had to be jealous of his accomplishment at a young age. According to Louis Tyson, author of The Psychological Politics of the American Dream: Death of a Salesman and the Case for an Existential Dialectics by Lois Tyson, states that” For Willy, Biff was of course, the star athlete, admired by the boys and perused by the girls, as willy has never been”(271).
Biff is even idolized by his father. Willy puts so much pressure on Biff because he in his eyes is destined for greatness. Biff at this time in his life had reached the height of his success. It could even be said that his father even admired his son. Even though his success was short lived Biff came into a God-like state early in his life. The American Dream does elevate individuals to a God like state because when you achieve your goals there is nothing anyone can do to you to make you feel less than. When an individual comes into a God like state they can become a powerful person.
Individuals who have a lot of influence or have a lot of power are those who have reached their American dream. Whether it is fame or fortune, or someone with a big house with a white fence; when an individual has achieved their dream there will be individuals who want the same for themselves. When an individual is not able to gain their American Dream they can become worshipers or follower of those who have reached their goals. A God-like state of mind cannot be achieved when an individual is not seen as an importance to a society or group of people.