Death Of A Salesman Review by Arthur Miller

Death Of A Salesman Review - Whilst this might not be the most uplifting play, it's one that has many lessons in it for us all. Namely, finding a job that you love and are good at, as well as inspiring your kids to do the same!


First performed on stage in 1949 to great acclaim, this play has been revived time and time again for theatre goers.

It's an absolute classic, which is why it makes it perfect for a book club.

It's not too long either, which makes it an easy read, but one that has plenty of themes to discuss.

The Plot

Death of a Salesman Review

The story focuses around Willy Loman and his two sons.

Willy Loman must be one of the saddest characters in literature. He spends his whole working life with no self-knowledge & with wrong values which he passes on to his two sons.

For a full summary of the plot go to

Death of a salesman Summary

Death of A Salesman Characters

Willy & his sons are the major characters though people such as Bernard & Charlie are important as a contrast to the Loman's poor & shallow values.

Miller is Over The Top about their misfortunes but we realise that he wants to strengthen his messages about aspects of American life.

Linda is hard to work out. Is she quite simply a very weak character or has a very strong Willy worn her down? Certainly, the three of them have no respect for women.


In life we all need one person who won't collude with us, who will keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. Linda needed to be that person for her husband & her sons.

Death Of A Salesman Themes

Death of a Salesman Review

The American Dream


Willy seeks to achieve this Dream along with most Americans; to become successful & thus rich by reaching the top of a chosen career. He fails to see that there are many ways of being successful without becoming rich.  Failure to recognise one's individual needs & strengths leads to disastrous consequences.

Style
    Miller creates a sense of mystery by using a series of flashbacks throughout the play. He starts in the present where we soon become aware of the tensions & short fuses in the Loman household; it is an effective though not uncommon technique. It helps, in this case the audience, to see why the characters are as they are at a moment in time.


Self-Delusion

The Loman's home is full of tension & drama. The reader soon learns that it's because of unfulfilled dreams & expectations. Willy kids himself that he's a successful & popular salesman in the whole of New York State but he isn't! He sets his sons high targets to become wealthy & successful but from birth he doesn't set them a good example; he laughs when Biff steals a ball & he doesn't teach them the need to work hard in order to achieve; being attractive, sporty & good looking are all they need. They make fun of the less attractive Bernard yet, taught good values by his father, Charlie, he becomes extremely successful in law. Poor Willy gets it all wrong.

Values

The Loman boys are appalling! They accept bribes; they steal; they cheat; they womanise & they aren't boys for they are in their 30's.  Linda Loman says of Biff, "Not finding yourself at 34 is a disgrace." But Willy is their role model & he does the same things infact finding Willy with another woman is the cause of some of Biff's later behaviour. All Linda does is to make excuses for them all.

Communication

There is a serious lack of it throughout the play. Willy never asks his sons what they want to do in life. They don't insist on working on the land, outside, even in their 30's. Willy is such a powerful father. He can't even acknowledge his own talents for he is good with his hands & loves the land too, infact we see him planting seeds. Deep down he sees working on the land as demeaning.

Urbanisation

It's not just their personalities which fashion who they are, it's also the neighbourhood & the city. Willy & Linda had lived in a more countrified area early in marriage but now there is great emphasis on the encroachment of the city & thus, urbanisation. He feels hemmed in!


Death Of A Salesman Book Club Questions

Death of a Salesman Review

1. How do you interpret the title? Is there more than one interpretation?

2. What is the significance of the names of the characters?

3. Do you think there is any humour in the play?


4. Do you think self-delusion is the main theme of the play? Are there any other themes?

5. Do you feel sympathy for Willy & his sons?

6. What is the symbolism of
    The planting of seeds?
    Ben & the jungle?
    Linda & the stockings?

7. In what ways is this play timeless & universal?

8. What sort of role models are Willy and Linda for their children?

Like?

Death of a Salesman Review

Our book club enjoyed discussing this play. It made us all think about how important it is to do something that you love - life is just too short.

The impact you can have on your children can be devastating. Being strong role models for your children certainly pays dividends.

A short read but plenty to discuss. We gave this 7/10.

Death of a salesman Review

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