Each of the Loman family members that we meet have quite obvious dreams, hopes and ambitions, some may have changed between the present and past but some have stayed the same, for example Willy’s dream was and still is too live up to the American Dream and become successful, popular and to reach a high level in his career. Inside though, Willy does realise that these dreams have been shattered. Linda’s ambition is to be a good mother to Biff and Happy and have a happy family; her dream however is for Willy to be successful, for his own satisfaction not for her own financial gain.
Linda’s hope is more subtle and it is that her family will ‘get on’ and Willy will get a desk-job. Linda is seriously worried about Willy’s health and feels him traveling around the country is making him worse, therefore Linda wants Willy to start an easier job, working at a desk. Biff’s ambition is too be able to work outdoors without his dad pestering him about becoming a salesman, his dream is to be accepted in life, which is a strong dream to have.
His hope’s are conflicting ones, he wants to be able to provide money like a man should do, he also wants Willy to live and Willy to stop tormenting him. Throughout the play these hopes are made obvious and Biff is undecided which is his main hope, therefore he pursues only one of them, with failing another. The torment from his father stops but this is only because Willy’s suicide attempt is a success. Happy’s ambition in life is to be praised; he is regularly contradicted for his actions even if he does well at something.
Happy’s dream is the same as his father’s; he wants to be successful, rich and popular. The American Dream has been passed down a generation from his father to Happy and Biff and Willy, having tried to live the dream already wants his sons to hurry, make a quick start and have a better chance of fulfilling it than he did. Happy’s hope is that he will settle in marriage, or ‘have’ women. The dreams, hopes and ambitions in this play to the reader of the present time seem quite easy to achieve.
Some of the dreams like Happy’s, would take longer and more effort than for example, Linda’s, because if Willy achieves the American Dream then Linda’s dream will automatically be fulfilled. If he achieves so does she, with little effort being put in by Linda. But in those days many of these would be awfully hard too achieve or near to impossible, therefore they are not very realistic dreams. Biff believes only his dreams are correct and only his dreams are achievable, near the end of the play Biff is talking about Willy and he says “He had the wrong dreams.
All, all wrong. ” He may have said this because he believed his father’s dream were too big for a man like Willy Loman to achieve, Biff and Happy know that Willy was trying to pass down the dream but Biff knows he is never going to succeed so he gives up without even trying and focuses his life on something different, like his love for the outdoors. I think that most of the characters are convinced about each other’s dreams apart from Biff’s. Willy believes Biff’s dreams are wrong and vice versa.
But I think that Linda has some belief in Willy, and belief in her two sons, while Happy and Biff have belief in their mother but not their father. Willy’s belief and motivation to succeed in the American Dream is connected to his brother Ben, who we see appear in daydreams through out the play. `Why boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by God I was rich. ` This quote was said by Ben, and motivates Willy to do better, Willy wants to be better than his brother and if he doesn’t so this then in his eye’s he has failed.
I think that for Willy the `jungle` represents life. Willy wants to walk out of life rich, and in the play he realises that he literally needs to walk out of life, therefore commit suicide. Signs and symbols are used in Death of a Salesman to convey meaning to the audience, for example music is an obvious sign, it increases meaning as the play progresses. Music, in this play, is used to highlight character’s emotions. Whenever there is a flashback, we hear the flute playing. The flute is also played at the start of the play and at the end.
` The flute is heard distantly` is evidence that whenever there is music, there is a flashback or dream. We can link the flute playing with a daydream, which is a theatrical device. The flute represents Willy’s father and his care free existance. Other signs are present like the characters gestures. The use of stagecraft and the script that take place help us recognise the fact that we are seeing flashbacks or illusions by using different techniques. The use of off stage voices helps us notice that we are watching a flashback, or memory.
It would be very effective because there is a divider between the past and the present. Miller uses play on words and layers of meaning in language also, Loman for example is used in the literal sense as the family name, but it also means low man, physically small, intimidated, mental well being (depressed), and his self esteem level. The woman he had an affair with made Willy fell good but he longer fells like this because she is no longer with him. Loman could also mean he is patronising and pathetic (low) man as he fully believes in the American Dreams, he is also low in status.
Luxury items such as the fridge, car or stockings are all literal items but they altogether represent status and money. In this essay, I have discussed all sorts of dreams and how they are mentioned in the play; I have also explored each of the main character’s hopes, ambitions and dreams. I have also written about the structural devices and theatrical devices used and why. I think dreams are very important as each characters emotion and actions revolve around their dreams or the other people’s dreams.
The play would not be anything without dreams as a theme. I have discussed in this essay daydreams, national dreams, cultural dreams, there are dreams that happen during one’s sleep, hopes and ambition type dreams and fantasies. I think Miller is trying to tell us is that people give other people the idea that you can achieve absolutely anything without trying your hardest, but really you have to try to achieve, no everyone in life gets to live a life of fame and fortune, not everyone can afford luxury items that the Loman’s can, but make do without.
But the Loman’s struggle with doing this, they always want better than they have and therefore will never achieve their dreams. To a lot of people in 1949, the Lomans’ did live a life of luxury. They had a good sized house, a car, a fridge; all things considered luxury, but for them it was not good enough, they thought they were doing badly and needed more. I think Happy and Willy were lead into a false world that many other Americans were but Linda and Biff pulled back from the false world and were living in a more realistic world.