Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949) and August Wilson’s Fences (1985) seem different at firstglance. The overall story of each play is drawn individually from thecharacter’s ideas, experiences, and culture. However, looking past the story atthe surface and delving deep into the meaning of each play can readers see agreat deal of similarities. Various correlations and allusions can be found amongboth plays. Willy Loman and Troy Maxson both play the role of a tragic hero,with their flaws being their demise. Both protagonists wished to achieve the”American Dream.
” Because they were different races, Willy and Troy came acrosstheir version of the dream quite differently. In Death of aSalesman, we are introduced to Willy Loman, a 63-year-old salesman livingwith his family in Brooklyn in the 1950s. During his early years he was greatat his job, being popular throughout New England.
Because he was so successful,he wanted to teach these qualities to his sons. Willy’s version of the AmericanDream can be attained through popularity, attractiveness, and contacts. Thiscan be seen through his friend, Dave Singleman. An extremely famous andwell-liked person, he was one of the greatest salesman ever.
Willy’s ignoranceof what the American Dream truly is can be seen during the play. Charley andBernard are direct opposites of the Loman family. Both characters have achievedsuccess and wealth in their lives through sheer hard-work, dedication, andwillpower. Willy, Biff, and Happy only looked-for shortcuts in life.
They triedto become successful through other people. As the play goes on, we see lifecatch up to Willy in devastating ways. Being fired from his job coupled withrising tensions among his family drive him insane, to the point of suicide.
In Fences, weare introduced to Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old sanitation worker living with hisfamily somewhere in the south in the 1950s. Troy’s version of the AmericanDream must be attained through perseverance and hard-work. Despite the fact heonly wants to improve himself, Troy refuses to let his son do the same. Hethinks Corey’s football scholarship is meaningless, due to the fact of his skincolor. He wants him instead to pick up a long-term and steady job, such asworking at the A or becoming a mechanic. From his experiences, Corey willget nowhere.
Troy was a very selfish person, constantly craving more than whathe already had. This is evident through learning of his affair with anotherwoman and having another child. Troy’s analogy of a watermelon can be seen asdescribing the American Dream. African-Americans must look after and defend itas much as possible. They must work double or triple the amount to be equal tothe average White American. Inside watermelons contain seeds which can be growninto more watermelons.
However, only through diligence and ambition will theygerminate. Before we know it, our protagonists are dead. Willy Lomancommitted suicide and Troy Maxson suffered a heart attack.
They both livedextremely prideful and shameless lives. They thought they were always the best,belittling others while never taking advice. Willy and Troy were never contentwith what they had. Both characters had affairs with other women and werebitter towards other people. Rather, they had lived depressed and loathsomelives. If only they had put their male bravado behind them, certainly thingswould have turned out differently.
In the end, America was not at fault to not fulfillingtheir dream, it was themselves. Both our tragic heroes Willy Loman andTroy Maxson never accomplished what they truly wanted in life. Their wishes toachieve the American Dream were just a stained window of hope and promises.They never reached what they wanted, just falling short of their goals.
Theiregos and arrogance were just too much to bear.