The American Dream, by Edward Albee, is a play with lots of laughs that is actually very disturbing by the time the laughter dies away. This is because the author reveals the often horrible behaviors observable in all of us on a daily basis. His characters in this play achieve a harsh penetration of each other through the use of superficial dialogue that is rife with cliches. We see a very ordinary family in a comfortable but poorly furnished apartment. The wife, instead of being loving warm and supportive is a screaming shrew who wears the pants in the family. Her husband lost his manhood years ago to her and she continuously torments her mother. She also considers seducing her son, who is a young male that has no physical flaws. In a sense the play is a parallel to Oedipus Rex and utilizes action that is not consistent combined with dialogue that is of the common vernacular to show how underneath the “physically flawless” American dream lies a tormented psychological existence.
The title takes on particular significance in The American Dream because it connotes the popular image of the American dream, a house, car, children; complete with white picket fence. In reality, the American dream has crumbled as nothing more than a façade and illusion which keeps people working merely to keep a subsistence level of living alive. The substitute son in the play most characterizes the meaning of the title to Albee. This is because Albee implies that there is not much more left to the American dream than the prettiness of its superficial imagery. Like the son who is physically flawless and will do anything at all for money, Albee personifies him as the ailment that afflicts modern America.
In a similar way, Albee uses language to illustrate the reality that underlies the American dream. For the author, language is a flawed means of human communion as much as the American dream is flawe