In both Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and “The Average” by W. H. Aden a common theme of the “American Dream” addresses the necessity of an individual to conform to society and how the dream as a whole leads to imminent failure. During the sass, Americans wanted to attain a better standard of living, thus resulting in this so-called “dream’. It was a strong desire of many low and middle income individuals to appear more fortunate than they were in the essence of reality. After World War l, America experienced a time of growth, wealth and prosperity.
The “Roaring ‘ass” occurred when consumer goods, such as; radios, ears and homes, became readily available to the public. With the use of mass media and communication, Americans felt like a more largely connected society. There was sense of pride in their country and they had a new-found desire to conform to the expected norms and values of society (“Death of a Salesman” 71). Rather than a country of individualists, the US became a nation of people who desperately wanted to be accepted by their peers which meant they needed to appear to be “well-liked” and successful in the eyes of society.
America then had an economic crippling during the sass when the Great Depression occurred. Americans were poor, upset, and angered at the fact that employment was at an all time low and the rates at which they were making money were infrequent. This affected many people’s attitudes about everyday life and their success in society. World War II came about in the years following and after the conclusion of that war, America prospered again, mainly as a result of the increase in the industrial production markets brought about by the war.
There was a sufficient amount of goods, products and services to choose from and the finances of many implies were increasing, therefore they were able to make such purchases (“Death of a Salesman” 69). However, this economic success placed the unhealthy citizens of America at a disadvantage. Inflation prevented lower class Americans from saving any money and the use of credit to purchase big ticket items also had a negative effect on the American people. They were spending money that they necessarily didn’t have, and using credit to buy items that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.
Relying too much on credit was a setback for many middle class Americans during this time; they wanted to appear more successful than the reality of it (“Death of a Salesman” 70). Born in the early sass, American author and playwright Arthur Miller lived in the heart of the time period of the “American Dream”, which was highly influential in his writing. He was an upper-middle class city dweller, who generally focused more on his social life than his academics. However, Miller became very successful in his writing in the mid sass.
His realistic dramas touched on social, psychological and physiological issues and often focus on the raggedy of characters that are not necessarily in tune with the world around them. Many reoccurring themes in his work dealt with the battle of an individual to preserve their reputation in the eyes of the cruel world that surrounds them (“Arthur Miller” 4). Millers writing in Death of a Salesman has been viewed as a parallel to his own life by some critics, but mainly is viewed as a denouncement of the obsession of wealth and popularity in relation to the American Dream (“Arthur Miller” 6).
Waste Hugh Aden, an English poet and writer, is very similar to Miller in many ways. Aden was also born in the early 20th century and even though he grew up in England he still focused on the ideal of the American Dream in some of his works (“Waste Hugh Aden” 1). He took up residence in the United States when he was in his early thirties, right in the midst of the when the country was prospering. Many of Addend’s themes parallel to that of Millers.
For example, his poetry is often said to be a criticism of life and society written from an outcast narrator perspective (“Waste Hugh Aden” 2). His works also center on moral issues and strong political, social, ND psychological angles in everyday life (“Waste Hugh Aden” 1). Death of a Salesman is a powerful work of literature that exemplifies the need of an individual, Wily Loan, to leave his mark somewhere in the world. The play centers around Wily and his desire for him and his family to be “well-liked” by anyone and everyone.
In Act l, the audience is given insight on Willis current mental, social and economic state of life. We learn that Willis main focus for him and his sons is to be successful in the eyes of society even if they are not genuinely happy with what they are doing. Wily being the average man that he is could easily be well off in a different profession, but he only thinks that he can be successful if he is performing the Job that society deems as prosperous. In Act II, Wily has completely lost his sense of reality and direction in life.
He tries to influence his sons to make the right choices, which in actuality are the wrong ones. His effort to make his mark on the world was a failure. In the final scene of the play, Wily commits suicide as a last hope to benefit those around him financially. Wily Loan’s overall goal to be accepted in society was evidently unsuccessful by the indication of only the few characters that attended his funeral. The structure of the play is important because it portrays the central message and allows the audience to perceive it in a unique way.
The flashbacks that occur frequently in Willis character provide a distinctive insight on his role in the play. They are informative on his past, the history of other characters, and how he has become the man he is in present time. In these flashbacks, Wily idealizes what he wishes his life was and he ultimately goes in and out of present time because he ant confront the fact that he has failed to live up to his unrealistic expectations (“Death of a Salesman” 67). Wily has a difficult time distinguishing what is real and what he wishes was a reality for himself.
These frequent flashbacks emphasize his desire to be a successful man in the world he is living in. Everything that Wily believes to be true is often a fabricated imagination. In Willis mind he believes that he and his sons are successful and accomplished adults, however this is not the truth (“Death of a Salesman” 68). Wily has a slow and dwindling grip on reality, which only adds to the ram of the play and emphasizes the toll that this “dream” takes on an individual. His false sense of identity accurately depicts the failure that comes along with the American Dream.
Due to the way the play is constructed, the audience can see what the characters have become and what has led them to their present state of mind. The ability of the play to not only display a reality but also portray the imagination and inner workings of the characters thoughts and emotions differentiates it from many other plays (“Death of a Salesman” 69). Being able to understand the reasons why certain harassers behave, allows the audience to receive Wily Loan for everything that he is; that he has experienced a lifetime of disappointment, failure, and that he and his sons will never be the men they wanted to be.
Wily Loan, the “low man” on the totem pole, in the essence of life, directly parallels to “The Average Man” in Deadens poem. In the first stanza of the poem there is a comparison between the hardworking class men and the successful individuals of society. There is a sense of pressure from “the parents” in the poem on their son, which I believe represents society. The second stanza states: The pressure of their fond ambition made Their shy and country-loving child afraid No sensible career was good enough, Only a hero could deserve such love (Aden).
The use of “their” is relating to the parents spoken of in the previous stanza, but also symbolizes the views of society on a working class civilian. Society is pushing the man in this poem to succeed and he is doing everything in his power not to fail. But, he knows that he could never please them, therefore they will never be happy. Wily Loan relates to this character in the sense that he is pursuing the dream that he ill be successful in society, but never reaches this goal.
The final stanza of the poem correlates to the final scenes in Death of a Salesman: The silence roared displeasure: looking down, He saw the shadow of an Average Man Attempting the exceptional, and ran (Aden). Wily Loan, in the final days of his life, is beginning to realize that he has no chance at achieving his desired success. He has come to the conclusion that he will never be anything more than mediocre, he will never be “well-liked” and he will never be the successful, exceptional man that he so desired to be.