INTRODUCTION TOARTHUR MILLER’SDEATH OF A SALESMANFOR 12TH GRADE ENGLISHSTUDENTS AGED 16-18By Elizabeth Cron
Historical Background• The play is set in the late 1940’s, New York• The effects of the Great Depression havesubsided• World War II is over• Materialism is reemerging in AmericaNew York in the 1940’s
About the AuthorArthur Miller 1915- 2005 Born in Harlem, NewYork
About the Author cont. Father owned a successful clothing company That company went down with the stockmarket in the Great Depression Attended University of Michigan Began to be recognized for his writing incollege
Techniques Used Realism- stressing the depiction ofcontemporary life and society as it exists orexisted Right: a realistic scene in DeathOf a Salesman-this scene takes place inreal time with a concretesetting
Techniques Used cont. Expressionism- emphasizes subjectiveexpression of the artists inner experiences;focus on emotion Right: an expressionistic scene-notice the unclearbackground-also, this is aflashback scene
Important CharactersWillie The play’s main protagonist Willy is a man past his prime who is presentlyunhappy with his life.
Important Characters cont.Linda Willy’s wife Dismissed by some as an enabler of herhusband Sometimes pitied for being such a devotedwife (we’ll find out why later)
Important Characters cont.Biff Willy and Linda’s oldest son Biff is fairly free-spirited, wants to make hisown path in life
Important Characters cont.Happy Willy and Linda’s younger son Happy has bought into his father’s values anddreams
Important Characters cont.Ben Willy’s older brother who “went into the jungleand came out rich” Critics have debated whether or not Ben everreally existed.
Important Characters cont.Charlie and Bernard Charlie, Bernard’s father, is a friend of Willy’swho helps him in times of need Bernard, Biff’s former classmate, is at the timeof the play a successful lawyer These two characters represent the value ofhard work
Themes to Watch ForMoney/ Value The emphasis on diamonds by Ben The quality of Willy’s car, refrigerator, etc. What the Loman boys consider to be valuable(differencesbetween Biff and Hap’svalues)Willy’s car: early 1940’sStudebaker
Themes to Watch For cont.Treatment of Women Willy’s interaction’s with The Woman Happy’s interactions withwomen, the way he talksabout them to Biff Willy’s treatment of Linda(his reaction to her darningher stockings)1940’s ad for stockings, a symbol of Linda’splight
Themes to Watch For cont.Truth vs. Lies Was Willy ever really a good salesman? What is Happy’s job? What was Biff’s job when he worked forOliver? Why do the Loman’s have these false views ofthe world?
Themes to Watch For cont.Being “well-liked” Willy’s ideas about what makes a mansuccessful Hap and Biff’s opinions of those ideas Bernard’s success in spite of Willy’s idea that aman must be “well-liked”
Symbols to Watch ForHoward’s tape recorder Consider: Willy does not know how towork it “Only 150 dollars” “The maid kicked the plug out”1940’s tape recorder
Symbols to Watch For cont.Willy’s seeds Consider: Nothing grows in the Lomans’ yard anymore Linda tries to explain why they will not grow Willy’s emotionswhile in his garden
Symbols to Watch For cont.The flute music Consider: Willy’s father sold flutes Willy’s feelings about his father Would the elder Mr. Loman have been proud ofWilly’s and/or Ben’s life paths?
While Reading… Consider all of the information we havediscussed Look for more symbols Form your own opinions ofwho has the right dreamsand who does not Enjoy!