Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)

Death of a Salesman
Death of a Salesman


ISBN: 9780140481341Number of Pages: 144
Publisher: Penguin Publishing GroupBook Title: Death of a Salesman
Publication Year: 1976Target Audience: Trade
Author: Arthur MillerReading Age: 18+


Death of a Salesman is a two act play created by American playwright Arthur Miller. The hero Willy has more than 30 years of experience in sales promotion. He has always been shrouded in the illusory halo of American business culture.

He blindly estimates his ability, imagines fame and unrealistic prospects through commodity sales, so that he is often in a state of mind of boasting and lying. Until his death, he thought he would achieve success, but he did not know the reason for his own destruction.

The book depicts the tragic life of a small character and exposes the deceit of American mythology.

Willy Lohmann, a 60 year old salesman, came home with two heavy boxes containing samples. He was extremely tired, as if he had reached the end of his life. Only his wife Linda understands him, sympathizes with him, makes every effort to safeguard his dignity, and hopes to give him some courage and confidence to live.

However, all this seems to be of no avail. Willy was smart and capable in his prime, and his two sons Biff and Hapi are his pride. Although Biff failed in school, he did not pay attention to it, as he confirmed that Biff could be a sports star in the future. However, it backfired. Biff, the eldest son, ran away from home many times, preferring to be an agricultural worker rather than stay in a big city full of competition and fraud. Under the heavy pressure, Willie was in a trance.

In order to save Willie, Linda appealed to the children to love their father, and even told them Willy‘s suicide attempt. At this time, the youngest son, Hapi, figure out a way, he ask Biff to borrow money from friends and let the Lohmann brothers run the business independently in order to make a career. This exciting idea made the whole family have new hopes.

In order to wish the realization of the future ideal, the father and son agreed to meet in the restaurant. When they met, they both brought bad news: Biff didn’t borrow money, and Willy was fired from the company. This led to another fierce quarrel between father and sons. However, none of them understood the social reasons why they could not live on.

In the end, Willy committed suicide to bring benefits to his family for the insurance compensation after his death.

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About the Author

Arthur Miller (1915-2005), an American dramatist, is known as “the conscience of American drama”.

Arthur Miller was born into a Jewish businessman’s family in New York. During the Great Depression of the American economy in the early 1930s, his father went bankrupt and his family was struggling.

After graduating from high school, Miller worked as a part-time worker while studying in the Department of Journalism and the Department of English at the University of Michigan, and began writing scripts.

In 1947, Arthur Miller‘s famous work All My Sons was staged, with 328 performances in a row. Two years later, Death of a Salesman played 742 consecutive performances on Broadway, it won the Tony Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics’ Award, which made Arthur Miller won international reputation.

In addition, Miller has also created such plays as The Sorceress of Salem, Overlook at the Bridge, and The American Clock, all of which criticize the disadvantages of the times and make a profound exploration of social reality and dramatic techniques.

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Table of Contents

  • Essay Topics for Dialogue: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
  • Introduction / Eric J. Sterling
  • 1. Linda Loman: “Attention must be paid” / Terry Otten
  • 2. Domestic Tragedies: The Feminist Dilemma in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman / L. Bailey McDaniel
  • 3. Arthur Miller: Guardian of the Dream of America / Steven Centola
  • 4. Refocusing America’s Dream / Michelle Nass
  • 5. Capitalist America in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: A Re-consideration / Juan Ignacio Guijarro-Gonzalez and Ramon Espejo
  • 6. Willy Loman and the Legacy of Capitalism / Linda Uranga
  • 7. The Dynamo, the Salesman, and the Playwright / Paula Marantz Cohen
  • 8. Mystifying the Machine: Staged and Unstaged Technologies in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman / Craig N. Owens
  • 9. In His Father’s Image: Biff Loman’s Struggle with Inherited Traits in Death of a Salesman / Michael J. Meyer
  • 10. The Emergence of Hope in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman / Deborah Cosier Solomon
  • 11. “A little boat looking for a harbor”: Sexual Symbolism in Arthur Miller’sDeath of a Salesman / Luc Gilleman
  • 12. Compensatory Symbolism in Miller’s Death of a Salesman / Samantha Batten.