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An Outline: The Role of the American Dream in the Lives of Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby

Research Question: Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby from Death of a Salesman and The Great Gatsby, continuously feel like they need more regardless of what they already have. Discuss how this is evident in these two literary works. Included in your research analyze how Willy’s need affects his relationship with both Linda and Biff and Jay’s need affects his relationship with Daisy and Nick.

Topic: The Role of the American Dream in the Lives of Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby.


The American Dream, is a central theme in both Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, profoundly shapes the lives of the characters Will Loman and Jay Gatsby. Willy views the Dream as a symbol of achievement and acceptance by society, which motivates him to pursue material wealth as a gauge of his own value. Gatsby, on the other hand, sees the Dream as a means of regaining social standing and lost love. As they struggle with the false notion of the American Dream, the characters’ expectations and actualities diverge.

This topic is aimed at exploring how Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby are influenced by the American Dream to continue to feel like they need more regardless of what they already have. The research topic also aims to compare and contrast the characters of the two as indicated in the two novels to enhance the understanding that anyone can achieve success and happiness through hard work and self-reliance. Despite that, it will inform different aspects and perspectives of the American Dream and its challenges and failures.

More importantly, the research will explore how the ideas of Loman and Gatsby affected their choices, actions, and relationships with others. Also, it will examine the ways in which the two characters’ unmet expectations and unfulfilled desires impact their social and personal relationships with friends, spouses, and kids. Analyze critically the effects and ramifications of chasing the American Dream in various historical and cultural settings.

Literature Review

There are several existing research that have significantly analyzed the role of the American Dream as indicated in the lives of Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby. According to Hassan (2016), the dream focused on the post world war era that shows the human rat race, indulging in false perceptions to get way in order to become right overnight irrespective of getting it through fair and ethical means. The author creates a character in Willy who uses shortcuts to get rich and enjoy a comfortable life, in contrast to his brother Ben who works hard to become wealthy. Also, the article of Chen (2021) informs the changing connotation of the American dream from the view of Death of a Salesman. The author indicates that one of the main themes in American literature has always been the American dream. Numerous authors have examined what the American dream means, including Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Mark Twain, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway, and Scott Fitzgerald. There are also other important research articles such as Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, United Nations, and Zhu’s article that help to explore our topic from a wider perspective.

The findings from all the research studies indicate that both Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby have distorted and misguided versions of the American dream that ultimately contributed to their downfall. It was also found that with the lowest rate of social mobility among wealthy nations, the American Dream is quickly turning into the American Illusion (United Nations, n.p). some of the theories such as Marxist view the dream as a product of bourgeois ideology that creates false hope among the working class. Also, the consumerist theory connects obtaining material goods and services to the realization of the American Dream.

From the view of the research it is clear that there is a gap in research on how the American Dream can be redefined and reclaimed in a positive and realistic way. Also, there is an unanswered question on how the dream can be achieved without compromising one’s happiness, integrity, and identity.


Qualitative comparative analysis will be used in this study because it uses systematic comparison of cases to identify similarities and differences. It will also employ the use of a deductive approach meaning that it will start with a theoretical framework and test it against empirical data.

The method of data collection for this study will include document analysis and thematic analysis. Examining and analyzing texts is a technique called document analysis. The process of thematic analysis entails locating, classifying, and arranging themes.

The sample size of this study will be purposive and limited because it will select two cases which are the novels Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as the primary source of data.

The use of secondary sources of data is primarily responsible for the ethical considerations in this study. The research will guarantee that it honors the writers’ and sources’ intellectual property rights and properly acknowledges and cites the original works.


The results presented are findings of the data analysis and interpretation from primary sources about the American Dream. Also, it indicated that the American Dream played a significant and negative role in the lives of Loman and Jay leading them to pursue unrealistic and unfulfilling goals.

The study will examine each component of the research in order to draw conclusions. It will explain findings in the given context thus enhancing understanding about the topic of discussion.

There will be no use of Visual aids in this research.


A research paper’s discussion section analyzes, assesses, and juxtaposes the findings with previously published works. The limitations of the study, the implications and significance of the findings, and the recommendations for further research should all be covered in the discussion section.

As compared to the existing literature the discussion informs that the results are consistent, which suggests that the American Dream is a complex and contradictory concept that has both positive and negative effects on the lives of people and society. The results also offer support to the theory that historical and social contexts, including consumerism, have shaped and tainted the American Dream.

The results’ implications and significance are that they help to enhance understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the American Dream and how it affects our relationships, outcomes, and identities.

This study was based on a qualitative comparative analysis of two cases and indicated that it cannot be representative or generalizable to other contexts or cases. The accessibility and dependability of the sources as well as the researcher’s skewed and subjective opinions also place limitations on the study.

Future research should broaden the study’s scope and depth and incorporate additional examples or contexts that shed light on how the American Dream functions in the lives of various individuals or groups. A mixed-methods approach, which combines qualitative and quantitative data and analysis, may also be used in future research to provide a more thorough and nuanced understanding of the phenomenon


The study’s conclusion is that the American Dream is a strong and recurring theme in the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Arthur Miller and that it has a major detrimental impact on the lives of Willy Loman and Jay Gatsby, who chase corrupted and warped versions of the dream and ultimately lose their sense of self and reality.

The study has explored how ideas of the American Dream are an illusion that was indicated by the idea of two characters Loman and Gatsby. It has shown that the dream which seems to be noble is influenced and corrupted by social and historical contexts of the time and it can have both positive and negative impacts on the society and lives of people.

The research will need to explore the wide view of the American Dream in the future so as to avoid being limited to the case of two characters. It will also need to enhance different methods that will help get reliable information about the American Dream.


Chen, Shuaiqi. “Study on the Changing Connotation of the American Dream in Death of a Salesman.” Journal of Education, Teaching and Social Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, Feb. 2021, p. p56, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

Hasan, Amber. “American Dream: A Marathon to Success.” Ma ‘ārif Research Journal12 (2016): 10-10.

United Nations. “‘American Dream Is Rapidly Becoming American Illusion,’ Warns UN Rights Expert on Poverty.” OHCHR, 2017,

Zhu, Yun. “Conflict, Disorder, Failed Repair—Interpretation of Death of a Salesman Through Trauma Theory.” Journal of Research in Social Science and Humanities8 (2023): 32-36.

Note: Apply a hanging indent to each reference list entry.