America is a land of opportunity, a place where the "American Dream" can actually solidify into reality for everybody. This traditional social ideal emphasizes the belief that every person has the chance to achieve success and prosperity. However, this dream only comes true for those who adhere to the right method of achievement: hard work and dedication. In Arthur Miller's tragedy Death of a Salesman, the Loman family fails to achieve the "American Dream" because they accepted the delusion that success is obtained through personal charms. This false belief will differentiate Willy and his sons from Charley and his son, Bernard, both whose diligence and moral values prove to be their reason of triumph in the business world.
The "American Dream" that Willy yearns for is composed of unattainable tasks. He dreams of a tight-knit family, with value and importance, and most of all, the ability to obtain wealth and prestige. To be successful, Willy believes that a man simply needs to be well liked, "The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead" (p. 33). This delusion proves to be the reason for Willy's unpromising career. He's strongly invested his life based on what he believed to be society's unwritten law. This law states that a failure in society and in business has no right to live. As a salesman, he fails to realize that "the only thing [he] got in this world is what [he] can sell" (p. 97). The perverse moral system Willy upholds directs his sons in a wrong direction; Willy refers to Biff's stealing habits and wild behaviors as personality and defends him by saying, "There's nothing the matter with him!" (p. 40). Willy not only destroys the life of Biff and Happy, but also shatters the respect his sons had for him. Willy's last attempt of fulfilling his dream is by committing suicide; he wrongly believes that his death would provide his family with financial stability and the funeral would prove to the society that his life was memorable.