June 21, 2024
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Living The American Dream: Historical Perspective

American Dream

The development of the American dream in establishing the thirteen colonies is impossible to ignore. This vision was precise by hard workers who believe in courage, passion, and determination. With the development of this framework, a quality of life and standards appeared.

This American dream declined later in World War and the great depression. After these results, there was an immediate need for economic prosperity.

Due to its impacts, people diverted from traditional work ethics and desired a straightforward money approach. Two authors have explained this quest for the American dream in their plays.

The American Dream and Characterization of Two Plays

Arthur Miller presented the ‘death of a Salesman,’ and Lorraine Hansberry provided, ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ These two plays presented Willy Lomen and Walter Lee Younger as victims in their quest for the American dream.

This represents the dream illusion reflected from their vision, and the unbelievable approach confronted them with failure. That was the main reason they had lost their true identity.

Walter and Willy’s illusion about the American dream is viewed as addicted gamblers who like to spend most of their time in casinos. The characters presented in these plays reflect that they were victimized due to the wrong perception of the American dream.

The portrayal of the American dream by the two plays is different, and they cater to the standards of life, prevailing circumstances, and development of American drama.

The Portrayal of the American Dream

In the twentieth century, the role of development moved with the side of a nation’s prosperity. The dramatization in the twentieth century represented drama and melodrama plays. These were famous in public, and playwrights did not focus on high-quality plays. In that period, the focus was given to American drama, which continued to adopt the position of realism.

This was the primary form of expression of drama, and the experimentation attained an exciting way. Due to the expression of realism, objectiveness and impartiality are reflected in those plays.

This representation of true life and general expressions concentrated on the life of middle-class families and reality perception, without considering the imagination of high Class and standards.  Arthur Miller worked on that same notion.

Miller explored the troubles of life that persist in reality and the combined influence of realistic characters. On the other hand, Hansberry, in her play, reflected how the American dream is pursued in real life. The characters of both plays reflect the families’ experiences with an analytical eye.

Struggle in Life

This relates to the struggle in life to attain a particular level of satisfaction. The occasional triumphs and pitfalls of the characters have been expressed through plays that pursue the American dream.

The role of both plays is to reflect an underscored penchant for the attainment of economic prosperity and critique on the personal gains’ attainment.

To Americans, the own individual country with free gains was a big dream, and the attainment of equal rights was inherent. This notion is further associated with satisfaction and happiness in life.

To be rich is the essence of the American dream, and this aspect is displayed in both plays. No matter what, the characters in these plays are to get satisfaction and happiness from life by any means.

Both plays discuss the desire to be rich in the context of wealth, and this desire is related to the downfall.

Comparison and Contrast of Two Plays

Though there is a difference in display, characterization, and language in the plays of writers, the main essence revolves around the quest for the American dream.

In ‘Death of Salesman,’ Willey Loman is depicted as a failed salesman who is 63 and desires to be well-liked to get a successful life. He is at the end of his career and places all his hopes on his son, Biff.

He was a high school footballer with solid popularity, and due to this reason, Willy believed that he would be successful in America.

In ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ Walter Younger portrays the efforts of a father for his family during his life. They were African Americans and lived in Chicago.

Lena was a character in this play, as a wife with two young children, all of whom have the American dream.

Adoption of American culture

Adopting American culture was a part of the dream of these youngsters, and Lee wanted to make his children successful business people.

By the use of insurance money, they wanted to pursue their dream. In this play, Hansberry demonstrated the concept of the younger as her family.

As a girl, her family resided in Chicago, in a white neighborhood. Her life was based on women’s rights activists and civil rights.

Therefore, their depiction of characters in the play is similar to her life experience. All African Americans are still Americans, and they, too, can have the same American dream as others have.

Based on these facts and character displays by both writers, it is clear that the American dream is prevalent in all the characters.

How to succeed in America is the dream for all, and both plays treat similar themes, figures, and situations of struggle.

These struggles have been set at the same time as in American history. In both plays, Miler and Hansberry interpreted American experiences to fulfill the American dream.

The portrayal of characters Loman and Younger reflect the pursuit of the dream through their family and life experiences.

In the play, ‘Death of Salesman,’ the main characters, i.e., Loman, Linda, Biff, Happy, Charley, Bernard, and Ben.

The situation shows how everyone is engaged to pursue happiness and satisfy their dreams.

Theme of The American Dream

The play’s themes are illusion, the American dream, reality, and abandonment. In the period when this play was written, the economy was experiencing a social shift.

The era of financial prosperity and the business boom was a dream for middle-class families to improve their lives and style. As a salesman, Willy wished he would live in a luxury house as he worked hard.

But with time, Willy considered himself a failure in various life domains. This was mainly due to the switching of business conditions and the uncertainty of his circumstances.

Contrarily, in ‘a Raisin of the Sun,’ Lena Younger is depicted as a woman who has struggled throughout her life and is faithful to her husband.

Despite her strengths and power in the family, her husband had her right to respect.

These characters display the strength of American society and how it has drawn determination in women for the aspect of self-worth. The element of feminism is depicted in the play by Hansberry, and she has addressed issues like racism and the form of American capitalism.

The Personal Interest

The possibilities of wealth have been shown in the play. It is evident from Willy’s character that he wanted a change that he perceived was due to liking well or attributable to an imposing personality.

This relates to the business’s appearance in the economic world and the creation of personal interest. Walter Younger wanted support from his family in the pursuit of his dream.

The character of his wife, Linda, was to nurture a hurting family in those specific times when Willy’s wrong attempts to guide the family failed miserably. She offered substantial support to the family as well as to Younger.

The cool-headed woman and straightforward vision woman tried to unite her family as she had also seen tough times.

The circumstances in their neighborhood, based on racism, provided them with inequality sensation, and due to their ethnicity, the value of homes nearby would decline.

The depiction of race and feminism in plays attains a different form. However, the central theme was the quest for the American dream.

With this particular aspect, both plays address different issues. The money Walter wanted to invest in a liquor store was of the insurance part, which his family also framed for other purposes.

Walter appeared more and more confused during the whole play due to a lack of fulfillment in his play and dissatisfaction with life.

He wishes for more, but his wife elaborates to him that he has all that everyone wants, i.e., family, a wife, and a job. Walter’s dream of being rich drives the insanity brink.

On the other hand, the idea behind Miller was that they wanted to be rich as a traveling salesman. He appears frustrated for not achieving what he wanted.

A Tragic Flaw

This frustration tends to be turned into failure, and he confronts tragic flaws. He had good intentions but always focused on fulfilling the American dream, never on reality.

This illusion vs. reality framework is the theme of ‘Death of a Salesman.’ He never focused on reality and worked ethics on how to work to achieve prosperity and success.

He purely believed in the American dream and wished great success due to the acquisition of comforts offered by modern life in America. He became the victim of his dream due to this desire and was unsuccessful.

His approach towards life, the attempt to borrow money from Charley, saying to the family that it is his pay, etc., were wrongdoings that he faced later.

The themes of both plays depict life’s complex realities, and their efforts are genuine. Moreover, the American dream is freedom, which anyone can desire, but based on some ground realities, not on illusion.

The concept of African Americans and their struggle in their life elevates the idea of racism that is prevalent in America.

Everyone in both plays believed that materialism is happiness, and to attain wealth for their happiness is everything they need. No one thought that having family support was the biggest deal to be successful in life.

Family Issues in Plays

The family issue presented by Miller, i.e., the infidelity of Willy, deprived him of the respect and love of his son Biff. It was the reason his son never listened and trusted him, and this caused Willy’s failure.

The abilities and characters portrayed by Miller reflect that self-image and dreams are different things people should know. Participation in other activities that come in a clash with family is harmful. Willy was involved in pretensions and lies, and his dream of becoming successful collided with reality.

This failure shows abnormal behavior, confusion, and depression. Since his dream did not come true, he committed suicide. This notion intends to maintain the illusion that he sacrificed for the dream. The act intends to take over the control of his shame and guilt in front of his son, Biff.

The central theme in both plays is illusion vs. reality. The characters are not perceived as they were involved in following their American dream due to a firm belief in economic prosperity.

The dream of popularity and being well-liked by Willy had put him in trouble, and it crashed the image of reality.


The American dream is about business and economic prosperity that the nation needs. These two plays provide the same context to the public with a clear understanding of prevailing issues in this society.

The attainment of wealth indeed helps people get a successful life and what they desire. However, the means to acquire wealth highlights the ethical framework.

The characters, language, setting, description, and role in the play by Miller and Hansberry drive an approach towards reality.

It sets the issues based on reality and middle-class families. This turning point in American drama shows the conflicts in people’s perception. These plays combine expressionism and realism to reflect the societal approach.