To What Extent Can Willy Loman be Seen as a .
To answer this question it is necessary to look at the background of the author-Arthur Miller, both the American dream and capitalism, and how incidents in the play link Willy to the American dream. .
Arthur Miller was the son of an Austrian who had immigrated to America. Arthur was born in 1915, in New York where his father was earning a living as a clothes manufacturer. The family business was ruined in 1929 when the stock market crashed. Arthur paid for his own university education, and studied Economics, History, Journalism and Play writing. Arthur Millers father had moved to America to follow the great American Dream, believing America to be the land of opportunity. .
The American Dream meant the idea that any one could become a success no matter what they started with. It was thought that to achieve the American Dream you needed certain masculine virtues: strength, lack of emotion, courage, violence and ruthlessness, as well as needing a great deal of competitiveness. It was believed that failure was down to the individual, and not the fault of the capitalist society which they lived in. The thought of building a cabin and living out in the open was idealised by many Americans. .
In "Death of A Salesman" Arthur Miller is critical of the capitalist system which is encouraging people to want more of the better goods on offer. Capitalism depends on the continual encouragement of wants. People must buy more in order to enable people to work producing these goods. The play describes the increase in desire for material goods (consumerism) which followed the war. .
Willy can be seen as a victim in many ways. The most obvious way in which Willy is a victim is that he is fired from his job because he is too exhausted to travel everyday. Willy cannot understand why the promises made between him and his original boss, do not mean anything to his new boss Howard.