Contrasts in Plays “Raisin in the Sun”, and “Death of a Salesman”

Cash is one method to achieve one of the “American Dreams.” The “American Dream” is different for everyone and that dream for the majority of people depends upon how they were raised. There are lots of plays that critique the “American Dream” but just two will be concentrated on, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman; these 2 plays have opposite views of the “American Dream” and two extremely various households. Miller’s play presents an extremely cynical view of the “American Dream” and perhaps all the “American Dream” is simply a misconception and can no longer be attained. Lorraine Hansberry’s play on the other hand presents a play in which reveals that the “American Dream” is alive and can be accomplished, accomplished by anybody. A Raisin in the Sun provides a positive view of the future and the “American Dream.”

Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun handle an African-American household in the ghetto of Chicago. The Youngers receive a life insurance look for 10,000 dollars. Each family member has their own idea of how the cash ought to be spent. Walter Lee wishes to invest in getting an alcohol shop; in theory this would help his family improve their future. Lena Younger, in addition to Ruth Younger, desire to purchase a home with a lawn in hopes of leaving the ghetto; this would offer Travis, Ruth’s and Walter’s son, a better childhood, one outside of the ghetto. Walter’s sibling Beneatha wants to utilize the cash to spend for her college tuition so that she can end up being a physician. Walter Lee’s father’s death is what propels the situations throughout the play. Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman presents a middle class white household that is struggling to move up in the world. Willy Loman is the primary lead character of the play and thinks that through a good character and being favored one can go up the ladder life and reach success. Willy’s beliefs have been engrained into his two children, Biff and Hap; the outcome of Willy’s beliefs has actually triggered one kid to be unsuccessful due to his actions and the other son is on verge of duplicating the very same life as Willy. Both of the plays have a strong theme of the “American Dream.” Hansberry’s produces the optimistic view while Miller’s play shows an extremely grim outlook on the dream.

Walter Lee wishes to be more than just another guy’s driver. He wants more for his partner and his child. Walter understands that he can never ever be anything more, he can never go up in his position as a chauffeur nor can his better half go up in her position as another lady’s maid. The insurance money has the ability to ease the problem of being static. In order for Walter to seem like a guy and in order for Walter to attain his dreams he must create a business himself. Developing a business will provide him stability, cash, and assurance that he is the head of the home. Walter is disappointed because he can never achieve this objective, head of the house; his dream is thwarted by Mama due to the fact that she takes authority more than Walter. Beginning a service will minimize the problem of authority and place Walter into the manly role. Walter does not want to work for another male which is a big contrast to what Willy Loman thinks.

Miller’s protagonist Willy Loman believes that being well liked can accomplish anything in business world, but not once does he ever discuss owning his own company. Willy just thinks about moving up in the company at which he currently works. Walter has a bigger dream and knows what it takes. Walter also knows that he might stop working and even says, “Invest huge, gamble big, hell, lose huge if you need to, you understand what I suggest” (Raisin 2.1). Walter knows that taking a chance might suggest losing whatever. Willy represents somebody that is stuck in the old ways, reluctant to alter. Walter ought to have a tougher time being successful since of his race, whereas Willy, in theory, ought to not have a difficult time prospering. Miller’s play presents an America where nobody, not even white people have the ability to move up. However, Hansberry’s play shows that anybody can succeed and have the “American Dream.”

Hansberry’s play shows an “American Dream” for all Americans. The social implications are not as great in Miller’s play, but completion goal is still joy. Lee Jacobus argues that A Raisin in the Sun programs all the traditional values of the “American Dream:” This play shows the American dream as it is felt not just by African-Americans but by all Americans: If you strive and save your cash, if you hold to the proper values and hope, then you can buy your own home and have a sort of space and privacy that permits individuals to reside in self-respect. (Jacobus 1214) Willy Loman wished to be well-liked and the Younger’s simply wished to live somewhere with more self-respect. The home that the Younger’s occupy reveals the indecency in which they are surrounded, which mentions the terrible scenarios that surround their entire race. As soon as Ruth finds out that Mother bought a home she rejoices, “my time– to say goodbye– to these God-damned splitting walls!– and these marching roaches!– and this confined little closet which ain’t now or never was no cooking area” (Raisin 2.1)! To Mother and Ruth living in that location was indecent; it belittled them. Walter’s and Ruth’s son did not have his own room; he had to sleep on the couch in the living-room. The Youngers are worse off than the Lomans; that’s not to say that a person worked more difficult than the other, however possible greater inspiration and a much better understanding of the “American Dream” did the Youngers have. Arthur Miller’s play can work as a reminder that the “American Dream” is just a dream and will not always become a reality no matter how tough one works. On the other hand there is A Raisin in the Sun which gives factor to believe that the “American Dream” lives and genuine.

Both Miller’s and Hansberry’s plays have the death of a daddy which brings hope in both plays. In Death of a Salesman Willy thought that the life insurance coverage would assist his son Biff. Willy does the ultimate sacrifice because he thinks that Biff has a much better opportunity to succeed with the cash. Biff has the capability to let his complete possible shine and be out from under his daddy’s shadow. The audience does not know what ever takes place to Biff, however a minimum of there is some hope at the end of the play. In A Raisin in the Sun Walter Sr.’s death gives the Youngers the capability to make a better life. Walter Sr. worked his entire life in order for his household to have a much better life; his death was the final payment which would allow his household the chance to live their dream. Death provided both households hope; however, in Miller’s play there was very little hope till completion, but in Hansberry’s play hope is translucented the majority of the play. Walter and Ruth are talking about coming together and how things do not have to be so hard; speaking of the previous Ruth states, “Honey … life do not need to resemble this. I suggest sometimes individuals can do things so that things are much better … you remember how we used to talk when Travis was born … about the way we were going to live …” (2.1 ). Ruth and Walter both had hope that they would accomplish their dreams and help pave a much better future for Travis. The “American Dream” lives even before Walter Sr.’s death and flourishes after because of his hard work. In both plays death brings hope and reinforces the idea of the “American Dream.”

As stated previously, the dream in Hansberry’s play can be applied to all Americans white or black. Lots of critics criticized Hansberry for writing the play in this style, however no matter what Walter Lee aims to get out of the ghetto and attain his dream. Walter’s dream is to be independent, a dream in which Darwin Turner claims to be commonly accepted by whites, “Resenting his financial dependence upon his white employer and his mother, he defines manhood as the capability to support and offer luxuries for a family– a concept certainly accepted by the majority of white Americans” (Turner 5). This concept that just whites want to be independent is absurd because self-reliance is the exact same as freedom. Slaves wanted flexibility; the next thing for them to desire would be independence in order to ensure their happiness. The “American Dream” is not just for one race however for all people that concern and are born into the United States of America.

Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman both have a strong sense of the “American Dream;” both have their own views on the reality of the dream, however just one provides an optimistic view in its ending, A Raisin in the Sun. David Cooper thinks this to be an incredibly uplifting play and states, “It is a play about distress, futility, and tragedy, but likewise about hope and pride and what kind of conviction and commitment it takes to bring hope out of hopelessness, courage out of worry, and idealism out of fatalism” (Cooper 59). Many critics believed that Walter Lee was aspiring to resemble the oppressive white men who were over him, however the “American Dream” is not just for those males; it is for anyone, even African-Americans. In Miller’s play a pessimistic view of the “American Dream” is seen and it is not till completion that a little look of hope peaks through for Biff. The audience however, still does not understand what will come of Biff which causes the ending to be abstract, like a dream or a myth; this ending leaves a downhearted outlook on the “American Dream.” Hansberry’s play ends with Walter Lee entering his manhood and attaining his dream, leaving hope.

Functions Mentioned

Cooper, David D. “Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun.” Explicator 52.1 (1993 ): 59. Academic Browse Complete. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

Jacobus, Lee. Bedford Intro to Drama, 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.

Mays, Kelly J. “A Raisin in the Sun.” The Norton Intro to Literature. 11th ed. New York City: W. W. Norton &&, 2013. 1911-974.

Print. Mays, Kelly J.”Death of a Salesperson.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. 11th ed. New York City: W. W. Norton &&, 2013. 2109-176. Print.

Turner, Darwin T. “Visions Of Love And Manliness In A Blackening World: Dramas Of Black Life Considering That 1953.” Black Scholar 25.2 (1995 ): 2. Academic Search Total. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.