The stories of the Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby and James Hogue all portray the same story, but from a different perspective.
Though the general themes about the Death of a Salesman are the same as The Great Gatsby or the story of James Hogue, all three stories represent the story from a different perspective. They all represent the idea of one trying to change the situations that they are currently in, but unlike the other two, the Death of a Salesman represents a story of failure, rather than the other stories that were ‘successes’, followed by immediate downfall. The twist is that though they have achieved ‘success’, they are still not happy. It is not until the idea of failure, when happiness is found in the Death of a Salesman. The Death of a Salesman adds more to the concept of the ‘American dream’, because it reveals the serendipity of finding happiness even when one fails at following the conventional dream; and that the pursuit of money and other pecuniary interests are not the essence of it.
In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby spends all his life trying to become ‘successful’, in order to win back the love of his life. He accumulates his success by doing illegal activities that are not elaborated on much in the book. The life of Jay Gatsby differs greatly from the life of Willy in the Death of the Salesman, because Willy does not cheat to get where he is, and because of this, he gets nowhere. The Spartan life of Willy was filled with many hardships. He had to drive several hours to work every day, just to get his pay stolen from him. He would go through the motions and vegetate through his dull, effete and meaningless life. The condition of his life leads him to insanity. Gatsby, on the other hand, manages to rise to the top swiftly and easily. This reveals that the ‘American dream’ can only be achieved through cheating, and that the honorable men that we venerate and appreciate as being successful all got that way by taking advantage of the honest man, who is represented in the Death of a Salesman.
In addition to revealing the ‘American dream’ as a cheating scheme, the Death of a Salesman also represents the dream as a preposterous lie that is contrary to what true happiness is. Many characters that we have looked at before, such as the character of James Hogue, looked at life as something that he had to change in order to be happy. James Hogue basically decided that he needed to start over, so he invented an identity for himself. He eventually finds happiness, but it is abruptly ended when he is caught by an old schoolmate. The problem with this situation is that he was living a lie that he could not keep up with. In the Death of a Salesman, Biff finds happiness by embracing himself. Rather than blindly chasing a dream, he tries his best to know himself. This is revealed when he says, “all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am.” Biff’s happiness shows that the American Dream is something that is better off not being chased.
The story of the Death of a Salesman does indeed add more to the explanation of the American dream. Not only does it show the new perspective of failing to meet the expectations of it, it also shows the potential happiness in not trying to pursue it.