But there are among us today...those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them, and in the process of action everything we have accepted....is shaken before us and examined, and from this total onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos...-from this total examination of the "unchangeable" environment-comes the terror and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy....And such a process is not beyond the common man [who] has demonstrated again and again this inner dynamic of all tragedy. -Tragedy and the Common Man, A. Miller
Indeed, both Willy Loman and Blanche du Bois are tragic figures who suffer from the "terror and fear" of self-delusion in their struggles against society which "degrades them." So, perhaps rather than focusing on the American Dream as a theme--which certainly exists for Willy--there may be more commonality with the characters in the theme of Individual vs. Self:
- Both characters deceive themselves about their appearances.
By placing shades over the lights and only dating Mitch in the evening, Blanche creates the illusion of youthfulness in her appearance; further, she dresses as though she were yet the Southern belle and she is flirtatious and proud of her girlish figure:
You know I haven’t put on one ounce in ten years, Stella? I weigh what I weighed the summer you left Belle Reve. The summer Dad died and you left us… (Act 1)
Similarly, Willy believes that he can be more successful if he regains his youthful look:
I gotta overcome it....I’m not dressing to advantage, maybe. (Act 1)
- Both believe that they can attain happiness outside themselves.
Willy Loman and Blanche DuBois seek false and shallow promises of happiness; Willy perceives material wealth as the keystone to success and contentment, while Blanche seeks attention and romance as a delight and marriage as security.
"Always dependent upon the kindness of strangers," Blanche delights in attention and romantic flirtation as a diversion from reality as well as a bolster for her diminishing self-esteem and as escape.
In Act 2, for instance, Stella instructs her husband Stanley to compliment Blanche,
And admire her dress and tell her she’s looking wonderful. That’s important with Blanche. Her little weakness!
Further, Blanche hopes to attract Mitch enough to get him to propose and, thus, bring her some contentment and financial security since Belle Reve has been sold to pay debts.
In Death of a Salesman, Willy feels that happiness is attained through personal success and material wealth,
....I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ’Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go... into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people? (Act 2)
Like Blanche, he looks elsewhere for contentment. In Act I, for instance, Happy tells Biff, who complains that Willy mocks him, "He just wants you to make good, that's all." Even his act of suicide is intended to give his son's some financial security and himself some respect. He imagines a conversation with his brother about his funeral,
All the old timers with the strange license-that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized—I am known!—I am known...and he’ll see it with his eyes once and for all. He’ll see what I am, Ben!(Act 2)
- Present and Past blur for both
Blanche and Willy retreat to memories and illusions of success.
Essay on Death of a Salesman and Street Car Named Desire
4007 WordsMay 7th, 201217 Pages
Biff: “will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens”
Compare how the authors of Death of a salesman and “street car named desire explore the conflict between truth and illusion
Truth and illusion are utilized in Tennessee Williams “Streetcar Named Desire” and Arthur Miller's “Death of a salesman” through the use of the character; to lead the reader to a possible conclusion on the beliefs that went into the American dream that prompted people to work hard was that america was the land of opportunity while in fact that opportunity is used to manipulate those who follow this dream something that is most evidently shown in Millers main character Willy and to put forward a essential criticism of the materialistic…show more content…
This Contrasts Millers use of this dramatic technique as “The Harmonious Flute” is used to obscure Willys sense reality, in contrast to Williams use of it to identify Blanches reality. Unlike Blanche, Willy is compltetly oblivious to the truth and resides to his memories to conceal himself away from the reality that the American dream has failed him. The flute is reminiscent of Willys past and often symblozies when Willy is reminscing becasue he is unable to bare the truth that his American dream is failing. This shows that Willy is unable to deal with the truth due to the false reality that the maerican dream has presented him with and made him beliveing into. The best example of this is the tape recorder which Willy accodentally sets in motion. In its “shrieking”, unpleasent tones of a child recounting phrases, we see how awful it is for Willy to have to live an accurate account of the past such as this. This is a vivid expression of his unconscious desire to repress the truth. This is proven even before the start of the play where the first stage directions should indicate “a dream rising out of reality” Thurther emphiseing Milliers critic throughtout the entire play. Though while Williams and Miller both identify these Illusions as a way of their characters protecting themselfs from their societys; Blanches male dominated patriarchal society and Willy’s failed american dream. Blanche lives in a dream world,