Presentation on theme: "Death of a Salesman An American Tragedy by Arthur Miller"— Presentation transcript:
1Death of a Salesman An American Tragedy by Arthur Miller Introduction
2Arthur MillerBorn in New York City on October 17, 1915; he died February 10, 2005.Began as playwright at University of MichiganPulitzer Prize winner for Death of A SalesmanDouble winner of New York Drama Critics Circle Award
5Productions of Death of a Salesman first sound recording of Death of a Salesmanst film versionUS Tourst radio productionMiller directs Death in Chinafilm version with Dustin Hoffman on CBS; 25 million see it!
650th Anniversary of the Play Brian Dennehy and Arthur Miller, who was presented with a lifetime achievement Tony Award in 1999.
7Miller’s Legal Troubles Suspected of being a Communist sympathizerDeath of a Salesman was seen as un-AmericanMiller has troubles with the HUAC/McCarthy panel hearingsMiller denied a passportHUAC pressures NYC not to allow Miller to make a film for them about juvenile delinquency
8The Saga Continued...Miller convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names. And then...US Court of Appeals overturns his contempt conviction.But all of this could not deter the public from viewing and revering his work for generations!
9Audio excerpts from NPR Arthur Miller's Lasting Impact
10The American DreamPeople have the right to a decent place to live, a fair reward for hard work and recognition of their worth as human beings. This play is similar to A Raisin in the Sun in that it asks the same basic questions: Has the American Dream become an unkept promise? Is it just a mirage?
11The play…addresses family conflict and ethics in post World War II Americatakes a close look at the price paid for the “American Dream.”charges America with creating a capitalist materialism centered around a postwar economy.This materialism skewed the original view of the “American Dream” as envisioned by the founding fathers.Original Title – “The Inside of His Head”
12Miller’s AssertionsDeath of a Salesman is not a “document of pessimism.”Death of a Salesman is not un-American; it celebrates the life of Willy Loman.Miller believes that tragedy is “inherently optimistic.”
13From Classical Tragedy Unity of time -- the final 24 hours in Willy’s lifeUnity of action - the play is complete unto itselfUnity of place – the stage setting doesn’t change
14Also from Classical Tragedy the hero’s traits being a mixture of good and bad and being of higher moral worth than others in societythe concept of the hero’s flawthe hero’s capacity to willingly endure sufferingthe catharsis of the audience
15The Common Man as Hero Miller’s thoughts: “Everyone knows Willy Loman.” (allusion to the morality play, Everyman.)“The common man is suitable for a tragic hero.”Willy is meant to be seen as greater and better (at least in potential) than the society.
16Miller’s Modern Tragedy The hero is a common man.The hero struggles against society.The hero meets his downfall.The downfall is a result of an incongruity between his own perception of the world and reality.The hero achieves a kind of redemption in his downfall.
17Tragic? Yes!Willy Loman is worthy of being viewed as a tragic hero because he “is ready to sacrifice his life to secure one thing--his sense of personal dignity.”Arthur MillerRose Interview with A. Miller
18From Miller’s Essay “Tragedy and the Common Man” “ the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy…
19tragedy requires a nicer balance[than pathos] between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them and in them alone, lies the belief—optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man.
20It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time—the heart and the spirit of the average man.”Arthur Miller 1949
21Dramatis Personae Willy Loman Biff Loman Linda Loman Happy Loman CharleyBernardBenThe WomanHoward WagnerStanleyJennyMiss Forsythe and Letta
22Willy Loman Father, Husband Traveling salesman Believes in chasing the American Dream although he never achieves itIdolizes his brother, BenPuts Biff on a pedestal because of his success in high school sportsBecomes mentally ill when pressure of reality crushes his illusions
23Linda Loman Loving, devoted wife Naïve and realistic of Willy’s hopes Emotionally supportive of WillyTurns a “blind eye” to Willy’s infidelityVerbally abused by her husbandWilly’s strength until his tragic death
24Biff Loman Elder son, 34 years old High school standout-football star, many male friends and female admirersAcademic failures lead to a life of kleptomaniaIdeal career- to work outside w/handsFails to reconcile his father’s expectations
25Happy Loman Younger son, 32 years old In Biff’s shadow all his life Relentless sex driveRepresents Willy’s sense of self importance and ambitionOften engages in bad business ethicsDishonest
26Charley The Lomans’ next door neighbor Successful businessman Often gives Willy financial supportDescribed sadly as Willy’s only friend although Willy is jealous of Charley’s success
27Bernard Charley’s son Successful Often mocked by Willy for being studiousHe cares more about Biff’s academic success than Willy doesCompared to Loman sons by Willy; they do not measure up to his success
28Ben Loman Willy’s deceased older brother Independently wealthy Appears to Willy in daydreams—but never gives Willy the answers to his questions about what it takes to become successful in lifeWilly’s symbol of success that he desperately wants for his sons
29The Woman Willy’s mistress Her admiration for Willy is an ego boost for him.She makes Willy feel as though he is special when she says, “I picked you…” when the truth is that she probably picked up a lot of men along the way.
30Howard Wagner President of the Wagner Company Successor to his father, FrankNot sympathetic to the aging Willy Loman and his problems with mental healthWrapped up in himself and his success, even though he never personally achieved it; he inherited his position with the company
31What does it take to become a successful salesman?
33How Salesmen Spend Their Time Companies look for ways to increase the amount of time salespeople spend selling.AdministrativeService CallsTasks12.7%16%TelephoneSelling25.1%Face-to-FaceSelling28.8%Waiting/Traveling17.4%
34Where Typical Salesmen Work Outside SalesForceInside SalesForceConduct Business From TheirOffices Via Phone or Buyer VisitsTravel to Call onCustomersSells to MajorAccountsFinds MajorNewProspectsTechnicalSupportPeopleSalesAssistantsTele-MarketingOrInternet
35Traits of Good Salespeople EnthusiasmPersistenceJob CommitmentSelf-ConfidenceInitiative
36As we read the play…look for these traits in Willy, Happy and Biff Loman and you will see why they have problems succeeding in the business world. They want to live the American Dream, but look what they sacrifice in order to do so.Look for similarities/differences between Willy Loman & Oedipus Rex, the tragic heroes. Would Aristotle believe that this play is a tragedy?