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Obsession with The American Dream: Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby

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Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Death of a Salesman’ and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s film ’The Great Gatsby’ both address one linked theme, striving for The American Dream. This unrealistic idea condenses to a happy way of living that is thought by many Americans in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success for all. For the protagonist in ‘The Death of a Salesman’ Willy Loman, stops at nothing to achieve his idea of the American Dream, as he is indeed a hardheaded character. On the other hand, Jay Gatsby the protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s film faced different conflicts. Considering his financial status, his problems didn’t originate from money but from the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. The protagonists chase after the delusion of The American Dream to satisfy their desperation to live a fulfilled life.

Jay Gatsby put his life into recreating his past, however it was never enough to impress the woman of his dreams, Daisy. He threw magnificent parties every Saturday, she was never really impressed and sought for the better and richer when Jay was struggling. Despite the fact he eventually gained wealth and can now afford everything money can buy, Daisy was simply a self-centred character and only cared about who can provide better and who’s wealth was greater. Gatsby tried mending things to the way they were as he thought his money will help him succeed this time around. This simply implies that he was a man of means, according to Nick “in its monstrous lengths with triumphant hatboxes and supper boxes and tool-boxes… Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of leather conservatory we started towards town.” In the Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman tries to recreate his vision of the American Dream by improving on his personality in order to be the most liked person which meant more significance than it should to Willy. He believed likability was the key to success. Willy was too proud of “who he dreams he is” despite his poor financial standing he refused a job offer from his neighbour as it was in his nature to decline offers then lives on to regret. “Why didn’t i go to Alaska with my brother Ben that time!Ben!That man was a genius, that man was a success incarnate! What a mistake!” He eventually dies without achieving his dream; the American Dream.

The Death of a Salesman foreshadows Willy’s obsession with the American dream resulted in his death. It seems that Willy lives in his own fantasy in which he believes he is well liked and an elite salesman, he however realises the opposite that he is not well- liked as he thought he was nor was he any good of a salesman. Willy Loman believed that success is measured by wealth. The rubber hose symbolised Willy’s inner suicidal self, as much as he tried to portray himself as the best something didn’t feel right. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay and Arthur Millers Willy both dreamt materialistically. Jay Gatsby strived to play the part of born with a silver spoon. He has perfected how to dress, speak and act as part of a privileged family when in reality he was brought up dirt poor. He was greatly triggered when Tom Buchanan who was Daisy’s husband, mentioned that Jay was nothing like him despite having the same money, as he was raised differently. “Were all different from you. You see, we were born different, its in our blood. Nothing that you do or say or steal or dream up can ever change that.” Loman and Gatsby are both hurled in their own fantasies that they built their lives around.

Willy Loman seemed to hardly live in reality, but as a greater person than he is. Willy presents himself as a very important person with his and his dreams speak volumes of what he thinks of himself. He told his wife Linda Loman about the trip to New York and that he nearly killed somebody, because he was dreaming. He later goes back to dreaming and forgotten that he’s driving and almost hit someone. However, his wife was no fool but she did respect him and tried to project the same thoughts to their sons Biff and Happy, although he wasn’t the most loyal of men. “I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.” Willy tried to achieve his dream through his personality. Jay Gatsby believed in achieving by hard work and making lots and lots of money. He lived lavishly, his house, his car and piles of the best clothes he thought that by flaunting his wealth he can reach his goal, Daisy’s love. In parallel Daisy’s husband Tom wasn’t loyal to Daisy and had an affair with Myrtle who was a friend of Daisy’s.The green light shun at the end of Daisy’s dock and it resembled hope for Jay as he associated it with daisy. He reached for it in the darkness as a guiding light to guide him to his dream.

Its in our human nature to dream, the pursuit of the American dream failed terribly for both protagonists. Jay possessed a lot of material possessions, but he never got Daisy’s love which he desired the most. Although it seemed as he almost had her by his side, he never really captured her heart and everything he did never seemed to be good enough. He never pursued his dream as Daisy was the reason he made himself who he was and he never won her love. Willy Loman never achieved his dream either he go fired from his job, missed out on a job opportunity as a result of the pride that lingered in his head and later committed suicide. The protagonists were dominated by their pursuit of the American dream that lead to their own downfall.

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Obsession With The American Dream: Willy Loman And Jay Gatsby. (2021, November 22). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from
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