Miller makes the ending of ‘Death of a Salesman’ effective in terms of presenting the failures of the ‘American Dream’ by creating a tragedy of Willy Loman. Willy successfully commits suicide and the Loman family are now left with his life insurance money. In general the play is about money, being successful and achieving the ‘American Dream’ which Willy and his two sons, Biff and Happy unfortunately fail. The ‘American Dream’ is a dream that any man would want to achieve, so they can become rich and have a good life.
The ‘American Dream’ is seen as a man being happy, with a perfect family, with sons looking up to him owning a house of their own with a garden. America is known as the land of opportunities and is believed to offer chances of riches even if you start off with nothing. It is thought anyone can achieve this dream with talent and personality. Willy makes up stories throughout the play about being triumphant as he hides from the truth which leads to his death.
This makes the ending of the play effective because Willy is a man who is trying to pretend to be someone he isn’t, showing off to his family that he is a rich well known man, who can do anything and has reached the ‘American Dream’. However the truth is that he is really just another ordinary man trying to earn a fair amount of money for a living. We know that Willy is trying to earn some money because throughout the play a few times he has to go to his neighbour Charley to borrow money to pay off the mortgage or fix the refrigerator and other everyday needs.
This implies that Willy had not achieved the ‘American Dream’ and this presents one of the failures of the ‘American Dream’. In general the play is about money and achieving the ‘American Dream’ which Willy and his two sons unfortunately fail, which makes the ending of the play effective because Biff knows that he could not achieve the ‘American Dream’ because he says in the play “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you!
” This quote indicates that Biff knows he’s just another common man just like his brother, Happy and his father and everyone else he knows which presents another failure of the ‘American Dream’ showing that Biff has given up hope on achieving the dream. Biff also knew his father, Willy had not achieved the ‘American Dream’ and all these years he was lying about being well known all over America. Miller has made Willy Loman a character stuck in the past who hides away from the truth, the man he really is. ‘I am known!
Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey – I am known”, Willy states that he is a man with a big imagination and is a very competitive character. Willy believed there was a shortcut for his sons Biff and Happy to achieve this dream because he believed that if you were masculine, social and popular you could accomplish the ‘American dream’ easily. This demonstrates a failure of the ‘American Dream’ because according to Willy if you are attractive and well known then you can carry out the ‘American Dream’ and there is a lack of personality which is missing from Willy.
Ben is seen as Willy’s conscience. We know this because Willy is the only person who can see Ben and they normally have conversations between each other throughout the play. Miller intends to show Ben is the ‘Voice of Reason’ of Willy, the side who knows the truth, that he hasn’t achieved the dream and can have a fresh start by committing suicide. Ben is a ‘personification’ of the ‘American Dream’. Earlier on in the play Ben mentions to Willy how he goes into the jungle and comes out successful metaphorically.
We see Ben as one of the failures of the ‘American Dream’ because Ben says “the jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy” meaning he has already achieved the ‘American Dream’ by walking into the world and coming back to his dream world with lots of money making Willy thinking that it is easy to attain. The family’s relationships between each other are fractured due to the pressure to do well and to live up to the ‘American Dream’ which makes the ending effective because this means they have to live a lie and hide from the truth.
The truth is that the Loman family is your everyday American family who are trying to make ends meet. If the Loman family do not do well this leads to anger from the family especially Willy. We know this because of the props used throughout the play which represents the truth and that the Loman family have failed to live up to the ‘American Dream’. The rubber tube is a stage prop which makes the ending of the play effective because the tube comes back towards the end of the play reminding the audience of Willy’s desperate attempts at suicide.
Linda had found the tube earlier on in the play and shown it to Biff and Happy. Now Biff has the tube and reveals another part of the truth to this family trying to pull them out from the pile of lies and the ‘American Dream’. Biff “whips out the rubber tube from his pocket and puts it on the table” is the stage direction in the play. At this moment Willy and Biff are sitting at the dinning table and Linda is standing beside Willy and Happy is more to the other side of Biff as shown in the movie.
I think in terms of staging we can see the relationship between all the characters from where they are stood or sat. It shows that all the tension is between Biff and his father, Willy in the centre of the room at the dinning table and that there has always been a wall between them. This tube represents the truth because it tells us that Willy has been trying to kill himself and has even failed as that. Linda says “Biff” as soon as the tube is out in the air indicating that she is the one hiding the tube from the family and not wanting to discuss the matter.
The stage direction says after that line “Linda turns away from them, her hands covering her face” Miler illustrates that Linda is trying to hide from the truth by using her hand and turning away from it. Happy’s reaction to the tube was him saying “You crazy” telling the audience that Happy also wants to hide behind all the lies and act as if nothing ever happened going back to their illusion of their perfect family.