The American Dream in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
Arthur Miller is one of the leading American playwrights of the twentieth century. He was born in October of 1915 in New York City, and was the son of a ladies-wear manufacturer who was ruined during the economic collapse of the 1930s. Miller, much like Biff in his play Death of a Salesman, was not a scholar, and sports captured his attention more than academics. He was such a poor student, that once his writing became well known, many of the teachers he'd had throughout school couldn't remember who he was. As a young man during the Great Depression, Miller was shaped by the poverty that surrounded him, which demonstrated to him the insecurity of modern existence. After he graduated from high school he worked in a warehouse so that he could earn enough money to attend the University of Michigan, where he began to write plays. (McKey).
The "American Dream," in my opinion, is based on the Declaration of Independence: "We believe that all men are born with these inalienable rights - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (Thomas Jefferson). This "dream" consists of a belief that in America, all things are possible to all men, regardless of birth or wealth, and if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. However, Miller believes that people have been misguided and Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, is an example of this.
The origins of the American Dream seem to have been rooted in the eighteenth and nineteenth century immigrants, most of who came to America because of a promise of a new and better life. In particular, the opportunity to own one's land was a big appeal. Land ran out, cities developed, and massive variations arose in wealth, which meant that this "American Dream" changed from being a potential reality, into being a dream. Most of Miller's plays are directly or indirectly about the American Dream, because ultimately this dream wasn't going to succeed as many people wished.