Death Of A Salesman And The Price Essay

When people accept an ideal to live by it can be a glorious and noble thing unless they become so obsessed with the the ideal that it
becomes a yolk and they are unable to realize their dream. This is
especially true for two characters in Arthur Miller’s plays Death of a
Salesman and The Price. In these two plays Miller portays two
lower-middle class men , Willie Loman and Victor Franz, respectivelly,
who each live by an ideal that ultimately is self-defeating. Willie
lived to pursue the American dream rather than living the American
dream and Victor lived to serve and be decent rather than living a
noble and decent life. They pursed their ideal rather than living it
and thus they are unable to succeed.
Willie Loman, in Death of a Salesman,, has lived his life in
pursuit of the American dream. Traditionally the American dream
meant oppurtunity and freedom for all, and Willie believed that.
However, hard work could not earn him everything that he wanted or
thoght he deserved. Willy judged himsel and those arround him by theit
material accumulation, as is demanded by capitalism and the protestant
work ethic. The ethic demands accumulation and work as signs of favor
in the eyes of god. Thus in order to please god and himself he had to
accumulate wealth and objects. The consumer oriented society in which
Willy lives will not allow him to live the American Dream. Willy is
fascinated by accumulating things. His desire fior goods makes him
want objects that he neither needed nor could afford. Willy thinks
that he needs to buy his wife a new refrigerator and new stockings
even though she is content with what they have. As he tries to live
the American dream he venerates those who have been successful at
doing so, like Thomas Edison, B.F. Goodrich, and Ben, his succesful
brother. Furetheremore he punished those who did not work towards that
ideal or accomplish it ,such as Biff, his son, and most importantly
himself. The extreme to which he followed the dream brought him to
disallusionment and lose sense of reality. Willy created a reality for
himself where he “knocked ’em cold in Providence,” and “slaughtered
’em in Boston.”(p.33) The ultimate result of his disallusionment is
his suicide. It is ironic that he dies for his ideals although they
are misconstrued.
The problem with Willy’s ideals which ultimately kills him is
that he has lost sight of achieving the true goal of the American
Dream, happiness and freedom, and the dream took control of him. He
struggled to achieve something that he could not; he did not have the
talent to be a salesman. He became so obsessed with living the dream
that he was unable to be content with his talents in carpentry and
with his family. There is also a manner in which he pusues the Dream.
He is a salesman, a profession that is associated with trickery and
illusion. He could not pusue a noble dream by doing something that is
based in deceit. His quest was cursed from the start and the fact that
he lived the quest and not the dream made it worse.
Similarly in Miller’s The Price the main character is a man who
tries to life for an ideal and not the ideal . In The Price Victor
becomes so obsessed with sacrificing for others that he ultimately
fails to please himself . By not achieving for himself he hurts
those he is trying to help, his family. Victor devoted his life to
serving others at an early age. When he was younger he went to the
police academy, a profession that is marked by self- sacrifice for
others. Furtheremore he put his brother through medical school even
though Victor had more potential in the field. While his brother
Walter was in school Victor cared for their aging father at a great
expense to Victor econimically and emotionally. During the time period
portrayed by the play Victor is still selfless as he constantly calls
tries to make arrangements to include his brother in the business deal
to sell off their families estate. Although Walter does not return
Victor’s numerous phone calls Victor still refuses to rake the whole
amount of money for himself although no one would blame him for doing
so. He has a greater need for that money and deserves it, for all his
earlier sacrifices for Walter’s sake, but he will not take it. With
all that sacrifice one would assume that Victor’s family would be
pleased however his sacrifices hurt them greatly. Those that he was
sacrificing most are hurt most in the end. That is to say that his
inability to please himself and to struggle to achieve his goals hurts
his family. His wife Esther becomes disgusted by his inability to
achieve and his not pusuing medicine caused him to remain a part of
the lower- middle working class. Just as Willy does, Victor too,
adopts a quest for himself however, he pursues that quest to the point
that he loses sight of his original goal – to please others, and ends
up hurting them.
Both men have decent and noble intentions however, they both live
to fulfill those intentions rather than living and fulfilling the
intentions. As a result they both fail to accomplish what they had
intended, hurt the ones they love, and themselves. Willy’s obsession
with acquiring wealth and being a salesman made it impossible for him
to do so. Victor’s insistence on helping others made it impossibe for
him to provide the life his wife wanted and deserved . Both men failed
because the became so involved in living by impossible standards that
they could never reach them and failure has harsh penaltis in both

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