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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

Published: 1949

Country: United States

Publisher: The Viking Press

First performed in 1949, Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman embodies the playwright’s view that the common man is as apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.

Willy Loman, the salesman, considers selling as an exalted profession – “the greatest career a man could want” - in the period following World War Two, when the boom in consumerism is just taking off. Miller skilfully intermingles time and space in the play to show how Willy has already exhausted the appeal of material success, draining the ambition of his sons in the process. His failure to understand himself, or to allow his sons to develop their own destinies is the tragic heart of the drama- even Willy’s devoted wife cannot save him from the price of his illusions.

Miller described his hero as “a terrified man calling into the void for help that will never come.” Equally it is Willy’s human failings that our sympathies respond to.

Death of a Salesman Essays

Have a look at some excellent student essays all about Death of a Salesman to get some ideas for your own writing.

Peer reviewed

Can 'Death of a Salesman' be Described as a Tragedy?

4 star(s)

Aristotle first defined a tragedy in literature as a story where the main character is a hero - a very brilliant person - except that he has one major flaw which leads to his downfall, namely, death.

Peer reviewed

What techniques does Arthur Miller use to highlight the conflict between past and present in Death of a Salesman? How do these techniques also demonstrate his main themes?

5 star(s)

Death of a Salesman is set in a time when the capitalist system is changing. It is set in the late 1940s, not long after the Wall Street crash in 1929. Willy...

English Essay- Death of a salesman

4 star(s)

As Willy has grown older he has trouble distinguishing between past and present, between illusion and reality an is often lead through flashbacks where much of the story is told...

The Significance of a Line From Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

0 star(s)

'Isn't that remarkable.' This single, brief statement may appear to be a trite cliché, yet in Death of a Salesman this favorite exclamation of Willy Loman

Death of a Salesman By Arthur Miller

4 star(s)

In 1947 he had his first great success with All My sons. Only two years later he produced his most important piece, Death of a Salesman, which won him the Pulitzer Prize. Death of a Salesman was often referred to as the...

Peer reviewed

What techniques does Arthur Miller use to highlight the conflict between past and present in Death of a Salesman? How do these techniques also demonstrate his main themes?

4 star(s)

Death of a Salesman is set in a time when the capitalist system is changing. It is set in the late 1940s, not long after the Wall Street crash in 1929. Willy Loman is unable...