Arthur Miller Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller • Born in Harlem, New York in 1915 • Family lost everything in the Wall Street Crash • University of Michigan • No Villain – first play • Married 3 times • Marilyn Monroe
Arthur Miller • All My Sons – Tony Award • Death of a Salesman –big success • Broadway- 1949 • Wrote 25 plays • Died in 2005 at the age of 89 • Heart failure
Foundation • Setting: • Brooklyn, NY • Late 1940s • Willy’s head • Point of View: • None • Play
Main Characters • Willy: protagonist & antagonist, salesman, Biff and Happy’s father • Biff: protagonist & antagonist, Willy’s oldest son • Happy: Willy’s youngest son • Linda: Willy’s wife, Biff and Happy’s mother
Additional Characters • Charley: Willy’s neighbor, successful • Ben: Willy’s older brother, successful • Bernard: Charley’s son, successful • The Woman: Willy’s mistress • Howard Wagner: Willy’s boss • Bill Oliver: Biff’s former boss
Overview • Biff comes home to visit after being gone for months and working on a farm making very little money. • Willy arrives home from work and almost crashes many times. • Biff is informed of Willy’s many suicide attempts and visions. • Biff is told by Happy, Linda and Willy to get serious about his life and find a job, and take care of Willy.
Overview • Biff and Happy become optimistic about starting a business and Biff attempts to talk to a former boss. • Willy becomes confident and asks his boss, Howard, to take him off the road and allow him to stay in New York. • Willy gets fired. • Biff’s former boss doesn’t remember him.
Overview • Biff realizes the lack of success in their family. • Biff and Willy have an argument which leads to Willy realizing how much Biff loves him. • Willy becomes convinced that by killing himself he can help his family by providing them insurance money. • When nobody shows up to Willy’s funeral his family realizes that Willy was not who he thought he was.
Quotes • “I don’t know what the future is. I don’t know what I’m supposed to want.” • “Everyone around me is so false that I’m constantly lowering my ideals.” • “A man is not a bird, to come and go with the springtime.” • “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away – a man is not a piece of fruit.”
Quotes • “After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.” • “I’m no good, can’t you see what I am?” • “Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be…when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am.”
Themes • The American Dream • Abandonment • Betrayal • Loss of Identity • Denial
Symbols • Seeds: • Proof of success • Linda and The Woman’s stockings: • Betrayal • Rubber Hose: • Suicide • Diamonds: • Wealth