Death of a Salesman
Ever since it was first performed in 1949, Death of a Salesman has been recognized as a milestone of the American theater. In the person of Willy Loman, the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine, Arthur Miller redefined the tragic hero as a man whose dreams are at once insupport ...more
See, I did…moreWhy do you think so? You're making a pretty controversial claim, so it would be smart of you to give some actual reasons for your opinion.
See, I did not enjoy this play, but I think it's not always necessary for me to enjoy literature. It's nice when literature is thought-provoking, powerfully emotional, and also enjoyable to read. But sometimes literature evokes emotional responses that nobody really enjoys. I think Death of a Salesman is a really good example of that.
So do I like it? Nope. Is it an important work that grapples with serious questions? Yep.
This play asks really hard questions. What's the American Dream? Is it worth chasing? Is there a right or wrong way to chase it? How should sons feel about fathers who disappoint them? What makes a father a success or a failure?
These are all worth discussion, and this play discusses these concerns at length.
Most people who don't like the play seem to have one of three objections. 1) They think it's depressing, 2) they think the characters are unlikable, or 3) they don't like Miller's conclusion that Willy's idea of success is both ethically and financially bankrupt, because it depends on people liking him, rather than on his actually being a good person or producing something of lasting value.
To which I almost always say: you don't have to like it for it to be good, or even great. Some kinds of art are great in a way that is pleasurable. But some art is great because it forces you to look at an ugly truth. This play is that kind of art.
I mean, seriously, what's to LIKE about this play? It's about a man who fails as a salesman because he relies on being liked, rather than on being good at sales, and who fails as a father because he taught his sons to value being likable and handsome instead of talented, hardworking or ambitious, and who finally decides that he's worth more dead than alive, because at least if he kills himself and makes it look like an accident, his wife and kids will get the insurance money.
It's a lengthy meditation on the meaning of success, both within the framework of the American Dream, and in terms of what it means to be a good husband, father, brother, or son.(less)
More lists with this book...
It's not a happy story. A story about a troubled family. About getting older and getting cast aside after years of hard work, never having quite made it. About big expectations, never met. Infidelity. About the estranged relationship between father and son. A father, what's he doing? Panicking because he is loosing his job.... loosing his grip on things... on his boys.... hallucinating even?Present and past events or even imagined flow in and out of the sto ...more
There's something to be said for waiting until later in life to read certain books. The struggles of Willy Loman would have meant little to my younger, more impatient self.
Now, the huge amount of time Loman spends dreaming of his halcyon days strikes a chord with me.
Memory has a way of making everything seem bigger, brighter and better than it actually was.
People have a tendency to dwell on the past when the present turns out to be not as ...more
GR: Do you mind, is this seat taken?
STEVEN: No, please do!
GR: How are you today?
GR: Could you spare a few moments?
GR: So, what did you think of Death of a Salesman?
STEVEN: Great!, the venue may have been small, but that just made the whole experience more intimate. I parked myself in a seat somewhere near the back and in the middle, so had a good panoramic view of the stage, the performances from all the cast were go ...more
LAWYER: Hold it right there.
ME: I'm sorry? Is there a problem?
LAWYER: Oh, go on and pretend you don't know what this is about. The "salesman" you're referring to is my client, President Donald Trump. "Death" is too obvious to be worth commenting on. Like so many liber ...more
The only time I saw "Death of a Salesman" professionally performed I was almost 19 and I wept for most of the second act. I have not read or seen it since, but recently returned to it. 16 years after my first encounter with this piece I still am moved by it, but for very different reasons. I guess that is what makes it a classic.
The protagonist of the play, the iconic Willy Loman, is a frustrating, loser of a man who frankly has been a cruel fool his entire life. He is j ...more
The first time I read it was in high school and I didn’t really like it. In later years I developed an appreciation for the play and assigned it to my college literature classes. I even got a VHS tape of the 1985 film with Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich and watched it with my students.
Now I find myself again teaching a literature ...more
Within Willy Lowman resides the typical American Dream with no reality. Overtaken by industrialism and materialism, this character represents the absolute failure of society's promise of economic prosperity. His life ends in the most tragic and ...more
Willy Loman, like all of us, just wants to be successful. And although at the start of the play he's amounted to nothing but failure, it's not from bad intention, it's not from lack of trying, it's from his ignorance. Willy thinks that success is measured in wealth, and the key to that is being well-liked. But he tries to cheat his way to wealth (instead of work hard and learn from his mistakes), so he ends up with no ...more
Arthur Miller is a fantastic writer. 4 of 5 stars to one his most known works, Death of a Salesman, written in 1949. Most Americans read this in middle school as a required book for their English courses. I am not positive when I read this, but I re-read it as part of my English degree in college. I enjoyed it more the second-time around, but it is still a very rough book to read. Not in terms of bad writing, but in terms of topics and emotions.
It focuses on the Loman family. The ...more
Loman now reaching the age of retirement and coming to terms with his physical limitations, Miller’s superior use of dialogue easily conveys Willy's gut-wrenching urgency to pass the baton to his disinterested ...more
Maybe I would have been more comfortable actually seeing ...more
Anyway, now I've read it and won't likely forget it....and, yes....poor Willy Loman. He is a lost soul and aging 63 year old salesman who has spent his sorry life traveling from state to state selling...more
Attention, attention must finally be paid... So sounds out Arthur Miller's cry to observe that every individual, every human being must ...more
The smiling and immaculately pageboy’d stewardess handed out little plastic twin-propped replicas of the airship she was so proud of - to all the jubilant kids on board - as well as new Life Magazines crammed with photos (many of them in FULL COLOUR) of the laughing JFK and Jackie.
The dour, staid, grim Fifties were over!
Prosperity and the American Dream had RETURNED ...more
Description: David Suchet, Zoë Wanamaker and director Howard Davies, who all won awards for the sell-out production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons in the West End in 2010, reunite to create a new production for Radio 3 of Miller's 1949 classic about the American dream and his second big Broadway success. The original won The Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award and Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. This new radio production is part of the celebra ...more
Previous times I’ve read this, Linda Loman seemed to me to be a passive character who is fiercely loyal to her husband, Willy Loman. This time round I saw her as a woman who was doing all she could to help her husband be happy. Linda Loman is practical, patient and generous to her husband’s obsessive search for that miracle that will give him the happiness he believes he deserves. She is also ready to sacrifice her relationships with her so ...more
Miller saw the play as (setting forth what happens when a man does not have a proper grip on the forces of life, The play was basically looking from the edge of the grave at life)
A play about dangerous illusions, obsolescence,the fear of dying a failure, it bored me but at least these novel was not thousand of pages.
* Willy Loman never made a lot of money.His name was never in the paper. He is not the finest character that ever lived. But he is a human being, and a terrible t ...more
This book was better than I thought it would be. I was expecting a boring and easy read but what I got was very different. There was action even though you wouldn't really think that those scenes were that exciting. The characters were also really interesting.
I felt bad for Willy at his determination to keep pursuing his dream of being a salesman despite his lack of success. I also was sad about how he truly didn't see his mistakes or reality. He had so many flashbacks and they interfered wit ...more
No “into the blue with a smile and shoeshine” for any of them.
This book – actually a play – is a lesson on avoiding unrealistic expectations and being grateful for what you have. That does not mean one should settle or worse, give up; however, chasing an elusive financial outcome and /or banking on your children to meet your own expectations for their lives is the lesson Mr. Loman teaches in tragic fashion.
Most people would feel lucky to ...more
"I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?"
I don't know if Miller intended it as such but it might as well be a criticism of capitalism.
Just look at what Willy has to say to his boss upon being fired:
"You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit."
but this criticism is more existional:
"After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive."
"Work a lifetime to pay off a
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