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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
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Death of a Salesman (1948)

by Arthur Miller

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,22561494 (3.69)187
  1. 20
    All My Sons by Arthur Miller (timspalding)
    timspalding: Similar, if not as good.
  2. 10
    Our Town by Thornton Wilder (kxlly)
  3. 00
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (FFortuna)
  4. 01
    1933 Was A Bad Year by John Fante (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: Le fils refuse de suivre la carrière professionnelle de son père.
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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
A true downer but an excellent play nonetheless. The idea of the parental expectations that they can live their failed lives vicariously through the children's success is highly prevalent as well as that of man defining himself by his work and the tragedy that occurs when the job/identity is lost. Brilliantly written for the stage. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 15, 2014 |
The Basics

Willy Loman is an aging salesman who is starting to lose his grip on reality. Through the course of the play, we watch his sad collapse while his family desperately attempts to rally around him.

My Thoughts

I’m beginning to think I have a thing for books that exemplify the death of the American Dream and the victims left in its wake. While Willy Loman isn’t quite as sympathetic as someone like Jay Gatsby, you will pity him, maybe even against your will. Because there is a sad reality here that resonates, and while the high drama could in some moments be seen as melodrama to some, it all seems pertinent and proper here.

Even then, the characters being likable or pitiable isn’t so much the point. More to the point is that they are strong characters with strong voices. The dialogue read smoothly. Interactions were as natural or tense as they needed to be, and when they were tense, it was felt. The message was clear and stark, all about broken dreams and kept secrets. The kind of thing that makes a short play blow by too fast.

So I loved it. I feel it’s a classic piece of theater/literature for good reason. It’s short and engaging, and if you want to read a classic and don’t know where to start, surprisingly this would be a good place.

Final Rating

5/5 ( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is a painful examination of the American Dream and how the pursuit of it can ultimately lead to destruction. Willy Loman, the destructively insecure protagonist, is a painfully ordinary man who makes several destructive choices and does not have a firm grip on life, frequently escaping into fantasy. His own sons conclude that Willy had the "wrong dream" and instead of being a travelling salesman, should have been a carpenter or a rustic worker. Instead his sons watch his dream and eventually his life fall apart.

Written in a manner similar to stream-of-conscious, Miller often merges the present setting of the play with events in the past only Willy can see and interact with. This is often confusing as the action shifts into the past frequently during present scenes, which reflect Willy's deteriorating mental state.

Overall then, this play does expose the emptiness of consumerism and the American Dream - pursuit of which can ruin lives physically and spiritually, yet in doing so Miller writes a deeply dark and depressing play that does little to inspire the reader, instead causing self-reflection on their own dreams.

Goodreads does not allow half-stars but the actual rating is more akin to 2½ stars. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Ugh, second time I've had to read this for a college class...really depressing slice-of-life about a man in denial, who is also slowly losing his mind. ( )
  vonze | Feb 6, 2014 |
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is a very interesting play. The overall concept that it focuses on is the American Dream. The man chasing that dream, Willy Loman, has a very tough time doing so. Willy has a serious problem. He sets unrealistic expectations for himself and his two sons, Happy and Biff. Ironically, Willy's brother, Ben, is a very successful man due to his African conquests. Willy always comes up with ridiculous ideas for his sons to achieve success. For example, he gets them going about some dream of starting a sporting goods company. Unfortunately this never works. To add to Willy's complications, we learn that he attempts to take his own life multiple times. At some points it seems like Willy is a bad man, but really he is not. He is a sad soul trapped in confusion and we should feel sympathy for him.

I recommend this book to all readers. Situations like Willy's are present in real life whether we realize it or not. We all want to succeed in our society and live the "American Dream" but that may be a stretch. Death of a Salesman is a rather emotional book that can be enjoyed by a diversity of readers.
  Thomas28 | Jan 23, 2014 |
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A melody is heard, played upon a flute.
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You don't understand: Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life... He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back - that's an earthquake.
He's liked, but he's not well liked.
Biff : Shouldn’t we do anything?

Linda : Oh, my dear, you should do a lot of things, but there’s nothing to do, so go to sleep.
Charley : Howard fired you?

Willy : That snotnose. Imagine that? I named him. I named him Howard.

Charley : Willy, when’re you gonna realize that them things don’t mean anything? You named him Howard, but you can’t sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.

Willy : I’ve always tried to think otherwise, I guess. I always felt that if a man was impressive, and well liked, that nothing-

Charley : Why must everybody like you? Who liked J. P. Morgan? Was he impressive?...But with his pockets on he was very well liked.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140481346, Paperback)

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 insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial. He has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity—and a play that compresses epic extremems of humor and anguish, promise and loss, between the four walls of an American living room.

"By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater." —Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times

"So simple, central, and terrible that the run of playwrights would neither care nor dare to attempt it." —Time

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The powerful drama of Willy Loman & his tragic end. 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 insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial. He has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity-and a play that compresses epic extremems of humor and anguish, promise and loss, between the four walls of an American living room. "By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater."… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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