The pursuit of the American Dream, for instance, did not doom Willy Loman’s neighbor, Ben, to a life of regret and misery; quite the contrary, Ben retired to a life of material comfort and took emotional pride in the fact that his son had become an intelligent and successful attorney. It would therefore be too simplistic to advocate an interpretation that denigrated the pursuit of the American Dream as a sole causal factor. To be sure, the text does not bear out such a narrow reading; the fact is that Willy Loman’s own personal interpretation of the American Dream, rather than the American Dream itself, led to his downfall and to his personal failures.
As a preliminary matter, Willy Loman viewed the American Dream as a sort of hoax that the clever played on their fellow citizens. Wealth and success were obtained by misdirection, by charm, rather than through hard work and sincere relationships with other people. Early on in the play he proclaims that charm is the superior virtue, rather than talent or hard work, by stating “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want”.