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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Contexts for Consideration from http://www.teachit.co.uk CONTEXT OF THE PLAYWRIGHT Born Oct. 1915 in NY into Jewish Polish family ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller


1
Death of a Salesmanby Arthur Miller
  • Contexts for Consideration
  • from http//www.teachit.co.uk

2
CONTEXT OF THE PLAYWRIGHT
  • Born Oct. 1915 in NY into Jewish Polish family
  • 1929, during Depression, fathers business
    ruined, and family moved into house in Brooklyn
    (thought to be model for DoS house)
  • Played (American) football in youth, worked in
    car warehouse to make money

3
CONTEXT OF THE PLAYWRIGHT
  • Attended U of Michigan, majored in English,
    presented w/playwriting award (along with
    Tennessee Williams)
  • Returned to NY wrote for radio
  • Married college sweetheart, had 2 children
  • Exempt from being drafted into US Army because of
    injury
  • Married Marilyn Monroe 1956, divorced 1961

4
CONTEXT OF THE PLAYWRIGHT
  • 1957 brought before US Committee on Un-American
    Activities, called to explain Communist
    tendencies Convicted of contempt for refusing to
    name names
  • 1962 remarried
  • 2005 died
  • MAJOR PLAYS All My Sons, Death of a Salesman,
    The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, After the
    Fall

5
CONTEXT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
  • Hard work-courage-determination combination will
    result in prosperityValues came to America with
    early European settlers and passed down thru
    generations
  • 2nd half 19th century distinct possibility of
    fortune w/relatively little effort, as long as
    one could invest in land
  • Early prospectors bought cheap land w. of Rockies
    in search of gold
  • American Dream driving force in Gold Rush
    immigration that followed

6
CONTEXT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
  • Irish Potato Famine, other problems in Europe
    encouraged mass migration to US
  • People fled problems at home for freedom
    financial security they heard existed in US
  • End of 19th, early 20th century real-life
    stories of figures such as John D Rockefeller
    emerging
  • Humble beginnings
  • Going on to control vast corporations and
    fortunes
  • Successes suggested that talent, intelligence,
    willingness to work would make dreams come true

7
CONTEXT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
  • Streets are paved with gold
  • More legal immigrants each year into America than
    any other nation
  • Drawn to work in industrial cities Chicago, New
    York, Detroit
  • Depression
  • Cause of major hardship to millions
  • Seemed to be reverse of American Dream

8
CONTEXT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
  • End of WW 2
  • Young American families moved to suburbs to live
    life of perfect family
  • Rise of hippie values in 1960s
  • Rejected this ideal, but didnt kill it off
    entirely, especially among older generation

9
AMERICAN DREAM--faults
  • Misleadingimpossible for everyone to gain
    prosperity simply thru hard work determination
  • Consequence those who do not achieve believe
    they are at fault
  • Additionally, poor penalized because their
    poverty is seen as proof of their laziness
  • Also, ignores fact that family one is born into,
    as well as traits such as natural intelligence,
    have bearing on potential success in life

10
THEATRICAL CONTEXT
  • 1947, Arthur Miller saw Streetcar Named Desire
  • Impressed at mixture of realism and expressionism

11
REALISM
  • Artistic mvmt. started in France, 19th c.
  • Sought to accurately portray characters,
    situations, problems
  • Language close to natural conversation
  • Costumes contemporary
  • Sets 3-dimensional, lifelike
  • Plays usu. about social problems
  • Ibsen
  • Chekhov
  • Shaw

12
EXPRESSIONISM
  • Reaction to Realism, Began in 20th c.
  • Sought to portray inner psychological life of
    characters
  • Concentrated on subjective view of world rather
    than objective
  • Plot, structure, characterisation less important
    than dialogue
  • Lighting used to create atmosphere
  • Williams
  • ONeil
  • Wilder
  • Scandinavian playwrights

13
Death of a Salesman as combination
  • Reality of events, but also Willys turmoil
  • Willys past experience acted out
  • Appearances of characters from the past in
    Willys present
  • Miller Not flashbacks literally that terrible
    moment when the voice of the past is no longer
    distant but quite as loud as the voice of the
    present
  • There are no flashbacks in this play but only a
    mobile concurrency of past and present because
    in his desperation to justify his life Willy
    Loman has destroyed the boundaries between now
    and then.

14
THEATRICAL CONTEXT--TRAGEDY
  • Serious play which represents disastrous downfall
    of central character usu. protagonist dies
  • Aristotle Action which is serious and complete,
    w/protagonist achieving catharsis (purification)
    thru incidents which arouse pity and terror
    Protagonist led to this point thru hamartia
    (error), which often takes form of hubris
    (excessive pride)

15
THEATRICAL CONTEXT--TRAGEDY
  • Traditionally, protagonist is of high status
  • Protagonist has character defect or tragic flaw
    which brings about downfall
  • TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU CONSIDER DEATH OF A
    SALESMAN A MODERN TRAGEDY?
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