The American Dream: At what cost?. Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller. About the Playwright: Arthur Miller. Born in New York City on October 17, 1915 Began as playwright at University of Michigan Pulitzer Prize winner for Death of A Salesman
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Death of a Salesman is considered by many to be the quintessential modern literary work on the American dream, a term created by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book, The Epic of America. This is somewhat ironic, given that it is such a dark and frustrated play. The idea of the American dream is as old as America itself: the country has often been seen as an empty frontier to be explored and conquered. Unlike the Old World, the New World had no social hierarchies, so a man could be whatever he wanted, rather than merely having the option of doing what his father did.
The American Dream is closely tied up with the literary works of another author, Horatio Alger. This author grew famous through his allegorical tales which were always based on the rags-to-riches model. He illustrated how through hard work and determination, penniless boys could make a lot of money and gain respect in America.
"A man doesn't become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall."
Six Characteristics of the Tragic Hero:
Nobility or wisdom (by birth)
A flaw or error of judgment (Hamartia)
A reversal of fortune (perepetia)
The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero's own actions (anagnorisis)
The audience must feel dramatic irony for the character.
The character's fate must be greater than deserved.
An air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality.