Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Arthur Miller alludes to the ‘American Dream’ in “Death of a Salesmen,” which has the effect of capitalism and consumerism, through the depiction of two protagonists: Willy and Biff Loman and moves to further criticize these ideas by showing the tragic end of Willy Loman. Capitalism, consumerism, and the American Dream are interlinked ideas and when each of the latter idea occurs, the former happens.
To have success, capitalism and consumerism are planned and implemented by the help of politicians and the media. Miller is acknowledging to the Americans that they are in an illusion and that the dream is fake resulting in various social problems and even in death like with Willy. In 1949 Arthur Miller wrote “Death of a Salesman,” in which the American Dream is depicted as a fruitless pursuit.
Willy Loman is a salesman who believes that success comes from being well liked and popular and has tried desperately to instill his ideas to his two boys: Happy and Biff, Willy’s biggest aspirations in life. His wife Linda is extremely supportive and is Willy’s only connection to reality. While raising his boys and trying to instill his “American Dream,” he fails to teach them any sense of morality, leading them down what he feels is the wrong path. At one point, he defends Biff for stealing just because he was an amazing football player. “Loaded with it. Loaded! What is he stealing? He’s giving it back, isn’t he? Why is he stealing? What did I tell him? I never in my life told him anything but decent things.” Willy’s goal throughout life was to achieve financial success. As a salesman, Willy was a failure and he tried desperately to prevent his sons to never end up like him.
As a result, he loses his grasp on reality. Throughout the story, Willy often has flashbacks of the conversations that he and his brother Ben once had. These flashbacks illustrate Willy’s loss of reality from the world. As Willy and Charley are playing a game of cards, Willy has a flashback of him and Ben and Charley became completely confused, believing that Willy is speaking to him. As a character, Ben represents the opportunity that Willy did not take and all the fortune that he missed.