Death of a Salesman is play written by Arthur Miller, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman. Death of a Salesman reflects America’s struggle between truth and illusion during the post-WWII era. Death of a Salesman was first performed on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theater in New York City. Death of a Salesman is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential American plays. Death of a Salesman was also adapted into an Academy Award winning movie, released in 1984. Death of a Salesman has been performed all over the world and continues to be enjoyed by many people.
The story Death of a Salesman follows Willy Loman, who is sixty years old and works as a salesman in New York City during 1949. Willy Loman lives with his wife Linda and their sons, Biff and Happy. We learn that Willy used to have more drive, but now feels stuck in life. Willy’s relationships are strained with his friends Charley and Howard because he cannot understand why they are happy if they do not have high-paying jobs like he does. Willy is also beginning to realize that his sons are not as successful as he had hoped for them to be.
Death of a Salesman follows the Loman family through their daily lives, highlighting their problems and struggles with money, success, happiness, and love. Willy has these certain expectations for his life which all seem unreachable now because of his age and time in life. The main expectation is the American Dream where everyone gets what they want if they work hard enough for it. This dream seems unattainable to Willy because “the loot” he expected at the end of the road has not appeared yet.
The other expectations are for Biff and Happy to take over the business that he created and to live the life that he did not. Willy has always compared himself to others, thinking that his life is superior because of his status in society. Death of a Salesman follows the downfall of a man who is reaching for something beyond what he can achieve. The main character in Death of a Salesman is often portrayed as “a tragic hero. ” A tragic hero is someone who possesses a fatal flaw or weakness.
The most obvious weakness in Death of a Salesman is Willy Loman’s struggle with personal happiness and success. Death of a Salesman also incorporates fate/doom, which contributes to the tragic hero image. This idea foreshadows Willy’s death from the beginning of Death of a Salesman, suggesting that tragedy is inevitable. Death of a Salesman also has an element of irony throughout the entire play. One example can be found when Biff learns about his father’s secret past. This causes further friction between Willy and his sons because they are no longer able to trust each other.
The play is focused on the character of Willy Loman, an aging salesman with low self-esteem, whose world starts to crumble around him. Death of a Salesman has been very successful since it’s release, winning many awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1949. Death of a Salesman is considered one of Arthur Miller’s most important theatrical works, along with All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman (1949). Death of a Salesman is not only about Willy Loman; rather, there are several other characters that contribute to this work like his wife Linda, sons Biff and Happy, Biff’s wife, his boss Howard, his neighbor Charley, among others.
Death of a Salesman is divided in two parts. Part I shows Willy working hard but without much success. He starts to believe that he is useless to everyone around him because he can’t live up to the expectations they have for him. However, in part II it becomes evident that Willy has different plans for himself. Death of a Salesman was written when Arthur Miller was only 34 years old; however it already had great success both with critics and audiences when it came out.
Arthur Miller won many awards due to Death of a Salesman including Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1949), New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play (1949), and the Donaldson Award for Best Play (1950). Death of a Salesman was considered “the most eloquent play about the nightmares of the middle class. ” Before Death of a Salesman , Arthur Miller had already written All My Sons in 1947, which won him the Drama Critics’ Circle Award. Death of a Salesman is different from other plays because it does not have a concrete ending.
After Willy’s death, there are several interpretations as to what actually happens after that moment. One interpretation says that Death of a Salesman is just one long flashback from Willy Loman’s mind as he dies, since his sons were unable to establish contact with each other during the time he spent lying on the floor after having a stroke. Another interpretation argues that Death of a Salesman is about illusion versus reality, and Willy’s death is not real; rather it is symbolic due to his lack of success in life.
Death of a Salesman has been translated into several languages with over 50 productions all around the world. Death of a Salesman has also inspired several live television broadcasts including one that won three Emmy Awards in 1953 for “Best Television Play”, another one that was broadcasted on CBS in 1984 starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman, and lastly, Arthur Miller himself directed another televised production in 1995 which starred Brian Dennehy as Willy Loman. Death of a Salesman has also inspired several movies, some of which were released in 1951, starring Fredric March as Willy Loman.
Death of a Salesman is considered Arthur Miller’s most important work because it helped him establish himself as one of the greatest playwrights in the history of American theater. Death of a Salesman touches several issues about life that touch different people around the world; however what is similar among all people that read Death of a Salesman or watch the play is that everyone can relate to Willy Loman’s character either they are related to him, know someone like him, feel something similar to what he feels throughout Death of a Salesman, etc.
Death of a Salesman has always been present among literature and theater classes. Death of a Salesman is a great book because anyone can read it and learn from it, as well as relate to some characters, situations, etc. Death of a Salesman has been an inspiration for many people that have wanted to be part of theater or just have expressed themselves through words or art in general. Death of a Salesman has been around for over 65 years and will remain one of the greatest masterpieces written by Arthur Miller.