Death of a Salesman

Title: Death of a Salesman

Author: Arthur Miller

Genre: Play

Publication Date: 1949

Death of a Salesman: Literary Guide


Death of a Salesman was written by Arthur Miller in 1949 as a play for the stage. It had the distinction of premiering on Broadway the same year and ran for over 700 shows. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in the same year and was hugely popular on account of its protagonist’s relatability to the common man. It was also touted to be the best American play since A Streetcar Named Desire.

The play opened to receptive audiences in the global arena and was more favorably praised in countries with communist or socialist regimes and political propaganda. This was perhaps because it subtly condemns capitalist greed and the psychological chaos it causes in the minds and lives of ordinary people.

In Germany, the play was even more popular than it was in the USA. In India, it was adapted regionally and in China, Arthur Miller himself directed it and opened the play to very welcoming and accepting audiences.

The play is a work of fiction that showcases the psychological impact of a money-minded capitalist society in the life of a middle-class, struggling salesman and his family. The play is often satirical in its representation of the “American dream”– of financial success and social privileges borne thereof.

With few characters– nearly all of them from a nuclear American family, the play focuses on the relationship between an ageing, almost retiring father and his young, about-to-enter-the-world son. This is a strained relationship, as most of them tend to be, as the father wishes his son to follow in his footsteps (but with more success) and the son wants to prove his father wrong in nearly all vistas of life.

It is a play that makes the audience question seeking ambition and money versus quality of life. And even seventy years since its infancy, the central theme of Death of a Salesman resonates today.

Death of a Salesman Biography

Death of a Salesman Background

Death of a Salesman Characters

Death of a Salesman Summary and Analysis

Death of a Salesman Themes

Death of a Salesman Quotes

Death of a Salesman Discussion Questions

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