Dreams in "Death of a Salesman"

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Dreams in Death of a Salesman Death of a Salesman holds many themes within its narrative, but the theme of dreams is the most prevalent. The purpose of dreams is used to describe both an alternate form of reality as well as the characters aspirations. This essay will discuss the importance of dreams to Death of a Salesman, arguing that it is this theme that is central to the play. Other themes existing within the novel such as performance, honesty and alienation, while significant, are secondary to the dominant theme of dreams. Dreams play a vital role to the development of plot and character within Death of a Salesman; it drives the main characters with their need to obtain their aspirations to a point of obsession that dominates their lives. This never ending pursuit of a non-existent perfection is what leads Willy, Biff and Happy and those around them into a false idea of happiness. They believe that wealth and reputation are the path to success, unfortunately this road leads to only poor and selfish choices leaving everyone unsatisfied and full of regret. Willy’s dreams for himself and his sons set the stage for the novel’s sequence of events. They are the reason that Willy cannot seem to find success, and when he cannot meet his high expectations for himself, he lies and cheats in order to keep the unachievable ideal alive instead of being satisfied with less than perfect. The theme of dreams as aspirations, in this way, is what drives the main characters choices and therefore the entire play. Dreams also represent an escape from reality in Death of a Salesman, many times in the form of hallucinations. It is through Willy’s hallucinations that the audience is exposed to the past and they also provide a window into his feelings of regret. The audience learns about Willy’s affair through his delusional memory at the Chophouse, this form of a
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