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Death of a Salesman


Death of a Salesman Introduction ENG4C Ms. Alexander * ARTHUR MILLER: The Playwright Arthur Miller was born in New York City on October 17, 1915. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman
  • Introduction
  • ENG4C
  • Ms. Alexander

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, 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 morals

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. (http//

The American Dream contd
  • Traditionally, Americans have sought to realise
    the American dream of success, fame and wealth
    through thrift and hard work. However, the
    industrialisation 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.

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
  • stating that once he was known throughout New
    England, driving long hours but making
    unparalleled sales, his sons Biff and Happy were
    the pride and joy of the neighborhood, and his
    wife Linda went smiling throughout the day.
    Unfortunately, time has passed, and now his life
    seems to be slipping out of control.

The Lomans
  • Willy has worked hard his entire life 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 flashback are impairing his
    ability to drive. Instead, all of Willy's
    aspirations seem to have failed he is fired from
    his jobwhich barely paid enough anywayby a man
    young enough to be his son and who, in fact,
    Willy claims to have named.

The Lomans
  • Willy is now forced to rely
  • on loans from his only real
  • friend (and the word is
  • used loosely at that),
  • Charley, to make ends
  • meet. None of Willy's old
  • friends or previous
  • customers remember him.

The Lomans
  • Biff, his 34-year-old son,
  • has been unable to 'find
  • himself' as a result of his
  • inability to settle down
  • (caused by Willy
  • drumming into him the
  • need to 'make it big within
  • two weeks'), and Happy,
  • the younger son, lies
  • shamelessly to make it
  • look like he is a perfect
  • Loman son.

The Lomans
  • In contrast, Charley (who, Willy tells his boys
    conspiratorially, is not well-liked), is now a
    successful businessman, and his son, Bernard, a
    former bookworm, is now a brilliant lawyer. We
    are told how Willy had at least one affair while
    out on business trips one in particular was
    discovered by Biff, and broke his faith in his

  • 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 him to perfect
    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
  • 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.
  • 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

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