Death of a Salesman

Death of A Salesman: Shifting of the American Dream

From its very infancy, the American continent was often equated with boundless opportunity. In A Description of New England John Smith characterized the early colonies of 1616 as a land of economic potential, declaring that "If a man work but three days in seven, he may get more than he can spend. (51)" In America, it was possible for a man from even the most modest of origins to ascend to great wealth through diligence and the sweat of his brow, unrestrained by any social hierarchy or intellectual qualifications. As the nation grew, however, the composition of the American Dream began to shift accordingly. By 1949, when Death of a Salesman debuted, the United States had endured the Civil War, two World Wars, the prosperity of the roaring twenties and ensuing collapse of the Great Depression, and was again in the midst of an economic boom. The economic and social change transformed forever the very definition of the American Dream. Once a philosophical ideal, the concept had essentially come under the brand ownership of corporate America. Rather than inspiring men to greatness, the American Dream instead was used as a marketing tool, urging a nation's eager consumers to partake of tract housing, new cars, and...

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