The American Dream is a theme that many books attempt to touch on, yet few are truly able to examine or explain it. Both Arthur Miller s play, Death of a Salesman and F. Scott Fitzgerald s novel The Great Gatsby are prime examples of these types of talented stories. The American Dream is unique for everyone, but the main concept of it includes a successful job, lots of money and many friends.
The main character of the play is a salesman named Willy. One of Willy s problems is that he cannot differentiate reality from illusion, just as Gatsby had in Fitzgerald s novel. Willy s American Dream was of the salesman with the green slippers. This symbol can be paralleled to the green light at the end of Daisy s dock in the Great Gatsby, an unattainable goal. Willy is a salesman who travels throughout New England and works on commission. He believes that wherever he goes, people will know him, but this is not the case. He is a horrible salesman, and because of this, his unrealistic dream of owning green slippers is labeled unattainable. He like Gatsby, is unable to see the real truth, that he cannot reach his goal no matter how hard he tries. In this respect, he is a flawed character and because of this, his story must end tragically. Though the title tells the reader of Willy s death, it does not describe all the hardships and the long journey of Willy s demise.
In Gatsby s case, he obtained his green slippers, but he did not receive the happiness acquainted with those slippers. Gatsby found his American Dream through both wealth and power. To gain the happiness he believed he would experience once he fulfilled his idea of the American Dream, he had to reach into the past and relive a former love situation. In his eyes, he had to have both wealth and power to do so.
Part of the tragedy of Gatsby was that he never found what he was looking for, inner happiness. He searched for happiness in all the wrong places, looking for material possessions to fill the void made by his illusionary goal. The inner happiness that Gatsby sought for in the American Dream was unattained because of his unexpected, yet subtly alluded to murder.
The lives of Willy and Gatsby mirror each other very well and are two fine examples of the illusion of the American Dream. Both characters were blinded by money and power and did not see the unattainability of their goals. The lives of Jay Gatsby and Willy Lowman are epitomes of tragic stories and will forever be associated with the illusionary goal of the American Dream.