“Delusive American Dream in Arthur Miller’s Dramas: Personal Morality and Alternative Reality in Death of a Salesman and All My Sons”

Demirel M.

Batı Edebiyatında Mizah, Şeyda Sivrioğlu,Meryem Ayan,Nejdet Keleş,Gamze Yalçın, Editör, Kriter Yayınevi, İstanbul, ss.331-343, 2016

  • Basım Tarihi: 2016
  • Yayınevi: Kriter Yayınevi
  • Basıldığı Şehir: İstanbul
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.331-343
  • Editörler: Şeyda Sivrioğlu,Meryem Ayan,Nejdet Keleş,Gamze Yalçın, Editör


    First coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931, the term American Dream may address to a variety of meanings. Basically, it implies a pursuit of happiness through realistic and ethical values. The idea of the Dream and its criticism has got into the agendas of many writers including Arthur Miller for further discussion. Among Arthur Miller's dramas, two modern tragedies in succession, All My Sons and Death of a Salesman, deal with the concept of the American Dream through family structure. With their numerous similarities in content—business world, action within twenty four hours, anachronistic but ideal father figures and disappointment of sons with them at some point, protecting mother figures with huge capacity of love, hypocritical characters, and so on—these two plays function as mirror works to comparatively examine the Dream concept. For Salesman, Galia Benziman argues that Miller has no aim to totally abdicate the Dream idea; on the contrary, he reconstructs the concept's damaged image. At this point, the crucial remark is that this opinion is acceptable for All My Sons as well. Through his morally defective characters who distort reality to cover their moral failures, Miller poses a neutral stand to the Dream and its core idea, self-made man, in both Salesman and Sons. In both plays, Miller neither renounces the American Dream nor holds a blind faith in the period's materialistic perception of the concept; thus, he puts forward that personal morality of the American people had got them far away from the realistic ideals and they had neglected the essence of the Dream, success through virtue on realistic terms, which brought them failure at the end. In the light of this argument, this paper will search for how the characters in both tragedies create alternative perceptions to substitute harsh realities. The father figures, Willy Loman and Joe Keller, who are the source of their family crimes, will be the center of the analysis to trace the cycle of the denial of truth in the plays. To study how the moral and realistic ground of the Dream is shaken, the focus will be on the characters’ immediate truths constructed to maintain their personal interests.