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Death of a Salesman
Transcript of Death of a Salesman
The American Dream
1915, October 7: Arthur Asher Miller born
to Jewish immigrants from Poland.
1929, October 24: Stock Market Crash devastates the Miller family;
they move from Manhattan to Brooklyn and close family business.
1934-1938: Arthur Miller attends Michigan University where he wins
several awards for plays he's written.
1940, August 5: Miller marries his college sweetheart,
Mary Grace Slattery.
1943: Miller is hired to write a screenplay,
but he later quits the production.
1947: Miller's first popularly-
received play "All My Sons" hits
1949: "Death of a Salesman"
1953: "The Crucible" hits Broadway.
1956: Miller divorces Slattery and marries
1956: Miller is called to appear before
the House Committee of Un-American Activities.
1957: Miller found guilty of Contempt for refusing
to name "other" communists.
1958: Judge overturns Miller's contempt conviction.
1961: Miller writes the film
and divorces Marilyn Monroe.
1962: Miller marries Inge Morath.
1968: Miller had his last major
1987: Miller publishes his auto-
2002: Miller's wife of 40 years dies of lymphatic cancer.
2005: Miller dies at age of 89.
At what cost? Does the end always justify the means?
"Death of a Salesman" is NOT:
"a document of pessimism" or "un-American"!
"Death of a Salesman" is:
"inherently optimistic" and a celebration
of Willy Loman's life and the American Dream.
A Classic Tragedy
Unity of Time: The final day of Willy Loman's life
Unity of Action: All acts contribute
to the plot.
Unity of Place: Action takes place either
at Loman home, restaraunt, or Willy's
Family conflict post WWII
Price of the American Dream
The search for meaning
Failure in pursuit of success
Conflict & love between father & son
Alaska, Africa, The American West
"A man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall."
The Tragic Hero:
Embodies (by birth) nobility and virtue but is not perfect
Possesses a fatal flaw (hamartia)
Commits (either consciously or out of ignorance) or mediates a terrible deed
Suffers a reversal of fortune (perepetia)
Discovers that this reversal was a result of his/her flaw (anagnorisis)
Evokes feelings of pity or fear
Endures a fate greater than deserved
Ends in misery
The hero is a common man.
The hero struggles against society.
The hero meets his downfall.
The downfall is a result of an incongruity between his own perception of the world and reality.
The hero achieves a kind of redemption in his downfall.
Miller's Modern Tragedy
"Everyone knows Willy Loman."
"The common man is suitable for a tragic hero."
Willy's potential is greater than the average man's.
Miss Forsythe & Letta
"I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person."