Arthur Miller was born in New York City in and studied at the. University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (), Death of a Salesman (). Death of a Salesman – Belvoir Teacher's Resources – p 1. Belvoir Death of a Salesman was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award. Death of a Salesman PDF Summary by Arthur Miller is an eye-opening play that explains the difference between happy and miserable life.
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In Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, we follow Willy Loman as he reviews a life of How is a salesman different from someone in another occupation?. PDF | This study makes an attempt to analyze Death of a Salesman in an attempt to mirror the struggling modern characters who live in the. Abstract: This study makes an attempt to analyze Death of a Salesman in an attempt to mirror the struggling modern characters who live in the world of.
After this failure, he turned to writing in a different genre and in published his only novel, Focus, a tensely written story on the theme of anti-semitism.
The skill with which it is written suggests that Miller could have remained a novelist, but in the same year his play All My Sons was produced on Broadway. A production of the play in London, in , introduced Miller's work to a wider audience, and he now became widely recognised as a writer and was earning enough to live comfortably. Later, it received the coveted Pulitzer prize for literary works of outstanding merit. Miller's inter- national reputation as a master playwright in the eyes of critics and general public alike rests primarily on this play.
After its initial success it has been regularly revived on the stage and in film and television versions in English and many other languages. It is regarded by many people living outside the United States as provid- ing an insight into 'the American character' and the leading role is generally accepted as one of the major challenges for an actor.
Of all his other work, only The Crucible approaches it in general popularity or critical esteem. This play, based upon the witchcraft trials which took place in seventeenth-century New England, was produced in New York in Many people saw parallels between those trials and the proceedings of the Senate Un-American Activities Committee, which at this time was investigating the actions and opinions of those American citizens who were thought to be conspiring to overthrow the legally elected government of the United States.
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)
Among these people were some writers and actors known to Miller who were associated with the American Communist Party. In , while The Crucible was being produced in England and also in translation in several European countries, Miller was called to appear as a witness before the Senate Un-American Activities Committee. Pending their discussions, he was refused a passport to attend the opening of his play in Brussels.
After some delay he was called to appear before the Committee but consistently refused to inform on people that he knew. In the course of the hearings he clarified his own viewpoint of the status of a creative writer within society, claiming that there must be freedom to choose any topic and to treat it in any style thought fit.
This position was neither comprehensible nor acceptable to the Committee. In , he was finally convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name suspected communists. Miller was given a suspended jail sentence 5 and fined, but after an appeal to the Supreme Court the conviction was reversed.
In , partly in recognition of his stand for artistic freedom, he was elected a member of the American National Arts Institute of Arts and Letters and later awarded its Gold Medal for Drama. In the meantime, Miller has paid a tribute to the great nineteenth- century Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, by producing a new translation of An Enemy of the People, a play which has some thematic similarities to The Crucible.
Miller had always been an admirer and disciple of Ibsen, but feeling that the master's works were being neglected because their style had become old-fashioned, he modernised the play by condensing the five acts into three and simplifying the dialogue.
In , two plays were produced in a double bill in New York. It immedia- tely ran into trouble with the British censor because of references to male homosexuality. Also in , Miller's first marriage ended in divorce and he married the film actress, Marilyn Monroe, for whom he wrote the script of the film The Misfits in which she appeared with Clark Gable in Monroe's part was 'tailor-made' for her and based upon the characters in two short stories Miller wrote for Esquire magazine.
This second marriage ended in and in Miller married his present wife Inge Morath, an Austrian-born photographer.
The couple have remained together in a relationship that is professional as well as marital. The first has autobiographical overtones and the characters are recognisable as being based upon real people, notably Monroe and Miller himself.
The other play explores aspects of the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the s but it also raises the question of personal responsibility for other people. As so often in his work, the central relationship depicted is that existing between a father and his sons. From to the present day Arthur Miller has continued to write and to travel but neither the plays nor the travelling, although interesting in themselves, are directly relevant to this book until, when he went to China to direct the Peoples' Art Theatre in a production of Death of a Salesman.
He subsequently published a book about this experience, Salesman in Beijing Methuen, This production was perhaps a crucial test as to whether the play was limited in its appeal to audiences who knew and understood the circumstances of the United States in the post-war period, or whether 6 it had a universal appeal irrespective of the national culture of its audience.
On balance, the Peking experience seems to suggest that the play is a universal masterpiece.
Written in , and set in , it is a re-examination of the American Depression which Miller believes has become romanticised by some people. The period between the Wall Street crash and the beginning of the Second World War provided him with a bitter and seminal experience from which he continues to learn. Before leaving Miller's biography in order to concentrate upon the play it is necessary to consider how far it is ever possible to separate a writer from his work.
From about until the mid s Miller was highly successful as a writer, but because of his political ideas he was open to attack from his opponents and misunderstanding by his friends. How far the opinions that he held at the time of writing may have affected the shaping of Death of a Salesman will be discussed later, but it is important to realise that Miller never wrote any of his plays as a parable to illustrate a political theory.
This is not his way of working.
Most writers use their own lives as the starting point for their imaginative writing and Miller is obviously no exception to this. However, there are very important differences between biography and fiction and we must beware of confusing them, especially when there appear to be many similarities between the life and the fiction. At first sight, Death of a Salesman appears to be full of autobiogra- phical references.
Willy Loman, like Isidore Miller, is a business man with two sons who moves out to Brooklyn. Arthur Miller, himself, like Biff Loman, was a high school athlete but, for a long time at least, not much of a scholar. Isidore Miller worked for a time as a salesman on commission. Other similarities could be found if we took the trouble to look for them but the differences are greater in number and far more important.
For instance, it is unlikely that Linda Loman is based upon Augusta Miller and in none of the plays does there seem to be a character obviously based. While Miller frequently used a pattern of family relationships involving a father with two sons, he treats the relationships in many different ways. Above all, it is significant that the Loman family is not Jewish, although they could be played that way. It is interesting to note that the distinguished American-Irish actor, Thomas Mitchell , led a company on tour in America in which all the members of the Loman family were Irish actors who played the characters in their own accent.
It has been said that never a week passes without there being a production of Death of a Salesman taking place somewhere in the world. Not only has it won the Pulitzer prize but also other awards from institutions in America and elsewhere. The play is still being written about and discussed long after its first appearance.
It is very unusual for a contemporary play to be esteemed immediately by serious scholars at the same time as it becomes popular with large audiences who merely go to the theatre to enjoy themselves.
There are several reasons for this. First, the play is undoubtedly well written in that it seizes the attention of the playgoer right at the start and keeps his interest until the end.
Secondly, it is written in a generally realistic style, using situations and language likely to occur in real life. Although it is clearly set in the United States of the s, it is acceptable to audiences everywhere because the characters and relationships with- in the Loman family are universally recognisable.
Thirdly, the character drawing of the principal parts is such that good actors will respond to the challenge of playing them. The part of Willy, in particular, has been treated to different interpretations from Lee J.
Death of a Salesman PDF Summary
Cobb's 'walrus' to Dustin Hoffman's 'shrimp' see Section 6 , yet all these variations have been shown to be quite valid as might be expected of a truly classic part. Finally the manner in which the story is told excites the interest of the audience by letting them into the private thoughts of the central character, thus deepening their involvement with him and adding a dimension of poetic theatre to what is otherwise a realistic play.
He began to wonder what would happen if this head could open up so that the audience could see inside- into the mind of a man. This image remained with Miller until the rest of the play was complete. Obviously, there were other components which had to be assembled before Miller could begin to write the play as we know it today. Some aspects of the family relationships a father with two sons, for instance had been used before in All My Sons, Miller's previous play, but were to be developed differently in the new work.
In addition, there were memories of his own personal life in Brooklyn, of his work in New York during the Depression, and his acquaintance with salesmen of different kinds. All these combined with the original image to make up the play. There is one other important and indeed unique feature of the play which owes its origin to Miller's past experience.
He spent some years as a writer of radio plays. The radio playwright is able to make direct contact with his listeners and can appeal to their imagination, changing the time and location of the action as frequently as he may need to without the necessity facing a theatre playwright of requiring changes of setting, costumes and lighting.
Furthermore, he can invite his listener to travel backwards and forwards in time, over vast distances of space and even to be, as it were, in two places at once or to see the same place simultaneously from more than one point of view. In other words, the radio playwright can ask his listener to use his memory and imagination for the purposes of entertainment in exactly the same way as human memory and imagination tend to work when left to themselves.
It seems clear that Miller's work in radio provided him with the basis for the timeswitch technique that he uses within this play. Although it is frequently said that the story of Death of a Salesman is told in a series of 'flashbacks', this is not strictly true. The flashback is a cinematic device which lacks the psychological subtlety and flexibil- ity needed here. The term 'timeswitch', although not altogether perfect, indicates the effect Miller was trying to achieve.
Timeswitches occur inside Willy's mind, but are observed by the audience. Sometimes there is a change of location as well as of time, as when Willy 'slips back' to his last meeting with the Woman in Boston, while he is talking to Linda in Brooklyn.
This is in fact a 9 'double timeswitch', occurring inside a timeswitch back from the present to the remembered past.
This may seem complicated but it never bothers audiences in the theatre! These changes occur only for Willy himself. Although the other characters appear within these timeswitch sequences, looking and acting as they did in the past, their present-day selves are, of course, totally unaware that Willy is remembering them.
It is a technique which has been immediately acceptable to audiences all over the world because Miller has simply dramatised what is after all a common experience. We have all had memories that have been so remarkably vivid that we have almost felt that we were actually living an experience rather than remembering it.
These are often triggered off by some unex- pected similarity or coincidence. A total stranger suddenly encoun- tered in a certain light may remind us of a person that we knew very well in the past, or we may hear music and find ourselves momen- tarily transported back in time to the place where we last heard it.
Sometimes these memories are so intense as to make us believe that we have indeed 'slipped' in time or place or both. On the way there, he encounters Bernard a lawyer , who mentions that Biff really wanted to do well in summer school but backed down after visiting Boston. Charley agrees to pays off the life-insurance, while Willy states that in this life a man worth more dead than alive.
Harold, Biff, and Willy are now in a restaurant, but Willy is not prepared to hear another bad news. However, Biff goes step by step, trying to unveil all the reasons for his unsuccessful adventure. His father suddenly recalls what happened when Biff came to see him in Boston. When Biff arrived there, he caught his father with a receptionist and reacted fiercely. Biff leaves the restaurant in anger and decides to try his luck elsewhere, probably with Happy and the two girls they met earlier.
Willy remains in the restaurant with a troubled mind and broken heart. Although Biff attempts to bury the hatchet with his father, out of nowhere a new debate breaks in and the situation escalates. Biff says that he and Happy are just ordinary people, wanting and pursuing the everyday life, something that Willy cannot grasp. Willy has a hard time letting go his ultra-ambitious ideas and unrealistic goals. Afterward, Willy hallucinates about his dead brother Ben and slips into a flashback.
Death of a Salesman (PDF)
He ponders how would his death be profitable to his family, especially to Biff. They would get the policy money and start over. Willy enters his car and a few moments later crashes, leaving Linda and Biff in despair. The obscurity remains, and all the emotions are mixed with no real explanation of what contributed to this tragedy.
Happy on the other hand decides to try his luck and becomes a businessman. Like this summary? He spares no one and indicates that life is beautiful if you know how to make the most out of it. Learn more and more, in the speed that the world demands.From my understanding of the play, I have been able to infer that two kinds of neglect exists in Death of a Salesman.
Not less, but nor more.
There is a problem, or can be, at this stage of our social evolution, with mixing the casts. I know not who sent me into this world, nor what the world is nor what I myself am. Art suggests or makes these interconnections palpable. There are several reasons for this. This play is really a life-altering one. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
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