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Death of a Salesman Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem


Death of a Salesman Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem Written by Arthur Miller – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Death of a Salesman Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem

Death of a SalesmanCertain Private
Conversationsin Two Acts and a Requiem
  • Written by Arthur Miller

ARTHUR MILLER The Playwright
Arthur Miller was born in New York City on
October 17, 1915. He wrote Death of a
Salesman, which won the Pulitzer Prize and
transformed Miller into a national sensation.
Many critics described Death of a Salesman as
the first great American tragedy, and Miller
gained eminence as a man who understood the
deep essence of the United States.
Miller continued
  • He published The Crucible in 1953, a searing
    indictment of the anti-Communist hysteria that
    pervaded 1950s America, which is set during the
    Salem Witch Trials of 1690. Miller is also
    famous for having been one of Marilyn Monroes
    husbands! He died in 2005.

The Play
Death of a Salesman, Millers most famous work,
addresses the painful conflicts within one
family, but it also tackles larger issues
regarding American national values. The play
examines the cost of blind faith in the
American Dream, the idea that success and
status are rights, not earned privileges.
The Play continued
It is a play viewed by many as a scathing
attack on the American Dream of achieving wealth
and success without regard for principle or
The American Dream
  • The American Dream is a belief that in the United
    States of America, hard work and determination
    can lead to a better life, usually through the
    earning of money. These were values held by many
    early European settlers, and have been passed on
    to the newer generations.
  • This idea persists today, though younger
    generations have deveoped a different idea of the
    American Dream.

The American Dream contd
  • Traditionally, Americans have sought to realize
    the American dream of success, fame and wealth
    through thrift and hard work. However, the
    industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries
    began to erode the dream, replacing it with a
    philosophy of "get rich quick". A variety of
    seductive but elusive strategies have evolved,
    and today the three leading ways to instant
    wealth are large-prize television game shows,
    big-jackpot state lotteries and compensation
    lawsuits. In this article,  Matthew Warshauer,
    Professor of History at Central Connecticut State
    University, examines why so many Americans are
    persuaded to seek these easy ways to their dream.

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The American Dream
  • How has the dream changed?
  • What does the dream mean to you?
  • Is it a right or a priviledge?
  • How will you try to realize your dream?
  • How important is being well-liked?
  • How vital is it to work hard?
  • Will luck play a part?
  • Is it better to win the lottery or make money in
    your chosen career? Why?

The Lomans.
  • The play centers on Willy Loman, an aging
    salesman who is beginning to lose his grip on
    reality. Willy places great emphasis on his
    supposed native charm and ability to make

The Lomans
Willy has worked hard his entire life (hes 63)
and ought to be retiring by now, living a life of
luxury and closing deals with contractors on the
phoneespecially since increasing episodes of
depersonalization and memory flashbacks are
impairing his ability to drive. Instead, all of
Willy's aspirations seem to have failed he is
fired from his job after 34 yearswhich barely
paid enough anywayby a man young enough to be
his son and who, in fact, Willy claims to have
Symbolism of the name LOMAN?
The Lomans
Biff, his 34-year-old son, has been unable to
'find himself' as a result of his inability to
settle down hes a former football star. Happy,
32, the younger son, lies shamelessly to make it
look like he is a perfect Loman son. Both sons
are disspointments.
Becoming Your Own Person
  • To what extent are you shaped by your
  • If you fail to become successful, can you
    blame your parents?
  • Why or why not?
  • For example, Willy tells his sons that the most
    important trait needed to be successful is to be
    well liked. If you were told this, how might
    that shape your life?

Finally, Willy is haunted by memories of his
now-dead older brother, Ben, who has constantly
overshadowed Willy, and he is in many ways the
man that Willy wanted to be. Willy's emphasis
on being well-liked stems from a belief that it
will bring successnot a harmful dream in itself,
except that he clings to this idea as if it is a
life-preserver, refusing to give it up. His boys
are not only well-liked but quite handsome, and
as far as Willy is concerned, that's all anyone
needs. He pitches this idea to his sons so
effectively that they believe opportunity will
fall into their laps.
The Tragic Flaw
Tragic Flaw a flaw in character that brings
about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy e.g.
hubris (or excessive pride) or avarice (financial
greed). Willy witnesses his and his sons'
failures and clings ever more tightly to his
master plan, now placing his hopes vicariously
on them he may not succeed, but they might.
His tragic flaw is in failing to question
whether the dream is valid.
The Setting
  • Lomans tiny Brooklyn house
  • Claustrophobic effect, surrounded by buildings
  • Middle-class furniture
  • takes place over 48 hours, 1942
  • NOTE when the play takes place in the present,
    the Loman house has imaginary walls in scenes
    relived (reimagined) from the past, the walls
    dont exist.

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Thematic Ideas
  • The American Dream
  • find prospertity be well liked
  • Personal Attractiveness
  • better to look good and be well liked
  • Truth and lies
  • We never told the truth for ten minutes in this
  • Family
  • loyalty, pride
  • Loneliness
  • Even with others around, we can still be lonely

Millers Narrative Technique
  • The separation of past and present no longer
    exists in Willys mind.
  • When a present event reminds him of the past, he
    drifts from his immediate surroundings and talks
    with unseen people from the past
  • Willy has MEMORIES, not flasbacks
  • Facts and time sequence are often confused

Memories vs. Flashbacks
  • Whats the difference?
  • Can we trust memory?
  • Why? Why not?
  • How might our memories be different from what
    actually happened?
  • Why might we recall the same event differently
    from other people?

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