First produced in 1949, Death of a Salesman's featured family and their conflicts remain congruous with families of the 21st century. In the time the play was set (the 1930s), up until the here and now, it has been a common occurrence for a child's parents to try and foist the dreams they themselves were unable to accomplish upon their sons or daughters. Similar to what happened to Willy Loman's family in the play, these circumstances tend to create kid-to-parent conflicts. Also, as Willy Loman spent his whole life in pursuit of the American Dream, many families today are doing the same, whether as a whole, or individually. It is said that history repeats itself, and it looks to be holding true within numerous American families as they strive to become one of the lucky few who are able to achieve the ever-elusive "American Dream."
It is only natural that parents desire the best for their children, that parents want more for their child than they were able to have. More opportunities, more happiness and a better life all-around. It goes hand in hand with loving and caring for treasured offspring. However, many parents have taken just "wanting the best" for their children to a whole new level. It has become common for some parents to push their own dreams onto their sons and daughters. Perhaps they feel that they are able to live through their child at that point, but it is not a fair situation. Every person is unique, and their dreams are as well. Therefore, a person should never force their dreams on someone else. It will end in unhappiness, like for Biff in Death of a Salesman. His father Willy Loman had always dreamed of being successful, of achieving the American Dream. He wanted to be well-liked, respected and make good money. That's what would make him happy. So, having failed at achieving his own dreams, Willy tried to "groom" his Biff into an all-American football star with a head for business. His thought process was that because Biff appeared to be well-liked and respected, he could follow in his father's footsteps as a salesman and succeed where Willy had failed. Yet this was not young Biff's dream. Biff wanted to have a job where he could work with his hands and be beneath the sky. He wanted nothing to do with the superficiality of the people operating within the world of business. The basics of this story are not so uncommon. The people of today can see much the same going on in households across the nation. The phenomenon is even depicted in various American films. The Proposal and Something Borrowed are just two such movies. In both films, the son of a successful man is being pressured by his father to go into a profession, have a job or, in Dex's case from Something Borrowed, a marriage he does not want to.
"If Willy's is an American dream, it is also a dream shared by all those who are aware of the gap between what they might have been and what they are." If this is so, then the nation of America, throughout its abundant number of generations, can relate to being caught up in the ideals of the American Dream. It seems the lower and middle class populations, of which Willy is a prime example, put their faith in the pursuit of the American Dream, believing it to be infallible if they only try hard enough to achieve it. Its promise of financial security and happiness beckon to many. It did so in the 1930s and continues to be pursued by families of today. The American Dream also holds great appeal for the nation's illegal immigrants. Indeed, many people migrating to the land of the United States are looking for better opportunities; in education, jobs and even just simply living. From my own personal experience, I know that from other countries are here working and making money to send to their families back home. I have several friends currently in this situation right now. It is apparent that some of the central themes in Death of a Salesman continue to remain relevant in American families and society.
Overall, many aspects and themes from Death of a Salesman have persevered throughout the decades and remain pertinent to American family life. Parents continue to "give everything" so that their children may have better and still think that when their children turn down the dreams that have been imposed upon them that it is a reflection of their parenting abilities, though it is not so. In addition, the belief in the American Dream is still alive and kicking. This is in part due to all the wonderful things it seems to promise, which include financial support, a higher standard of living, and a happily ever after. Many have failed to realize that a person's worth lies far within, and achieving the American Dream is close to impossible. Hopefully future generations will learn to put their faith in more realistic goals with tangible rewards, so history no longer has to repeat itself when it comes to this vicious cycle of disappointment.