Willy returns home to plant a garden at night. The "American Dream" is the idea that, through hard work and perseverance, the sky is the limit in terms of financial success and a reliable future.
It is clear that Willy's predicament is of his own doing, and that his own foolish pride and ignorance lead to his downfall. The distraught Biff says that he waited for six hours to see Bill Oliver and that Oliver did not even remember him. These qualities should make the reader feel sympathy for Mr Willy brings about his ultimate dismissal himself by going to meet with Howard.
To alleviate his loneliness, he has an affair with a woman that works at one of his client's offices. Biff claims that Oliver is discussing with his partner the notion of supplying Biff with money. Miller ends his essay by saying, "It is time, I think, that we who are without kings took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time—the heart and spirit of the average man.
Part of this "downward spiral" we keep talking about has to do with Willy losing a grip on reality and on time. In Aristotle's Poetics, a tragic hero was defined as one who falls from grace into a state of extreme despair.