Presentation on theme: "Death of a Salesman An American Tragedy by Arthur Miller Introduction."— Presentation transcript:
Death of a Salesman An American Tragedy by Arthur Miller Introduction
Arthur Miller Born in New York City on October 17, 1915; he died February 10, Began as playwright at University of Michigan Pulitzer Prize winner for Death of A Salesman Double winner of New York Drama Critics Circle Award
Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe i.com/celebs/pic:Marilynhusband/full-size
Productions of Death of a Salesman first sound recording of Death of a Salesman st film version US Tour st radio production Miller directs Death in China film version with Dustin Hoffman on CBS; 25 million see it!
50 th Anniversary of the Play Brian Dennehy and Arthur Miller, who was presented with a lifetime achievement Tony Award in story/story.php?storyId=
Miller’s Legal Troubles Suspected of being a Communist sympathizer Death of a Salesman was seen as un- American Miller has troubles with the HUAC/McCarthy panel hearings Miller denied a passport HUAC pressures NYC not to allow Miller to make a film for them about juvenile delinquency
The 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!
Audio excerpts from NPR Arthur Miller's Lasting Impact
The American Dream People 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?
The play …addresses family conflict and ethics in post World War II America takes 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”
Miller’s Assertions Death 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.”
From Classical Tragedy Unity of time -- the final 24 hours in Willy’s life Unity of action - the play is complete unto itself Unity of place – the stage setting doesn’t change
Also from Classical Tragedy the hero’s traits being a mixture of good and bad and being of higher moral worth than others in society the concept of the hero’s flaw the hero’s capacity to willingly endure suffering the catharsis of the audience
The 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.
Miller’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.
Tragic? 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 Miller Rose Interview with A. Miller
From 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…
tragedy 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.
It 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
Dramatis Personae Willy Loman Biff Loman Linda Loman Happy Loman Charley Bernard Ben The Woman Howard Wagner Stanley Jenny Miss Forsythe and Letta
Willy Loman Father, Husband Traveling salesman Believes in chasing the American Dream although he never achieves it Idolizes his brother, Ben Puts Biff on a pedestal because of his success in high school sports Becomes mentally ill when pressure of reality crushes his illusions
Linda Loman Loving, devoted wife Naïve and realistic of Willy’s hopes Emotionally supportive of Willy Turns a “blind eye” to Willy’s infidelity Verbally abused by her husband Willy’s strength until his tragic death
Biff Loman Elder son, 34 years old High school standout-football star, many male friends and female admirers Academic failures lead to a life of kleptomania Ideal career- to work outside w/hands Fails to reconcile his father’s expectations
Happy Loman Younger son, 32 years old In Biff’s shadow all his life Relentless sex drive Represents Willy’s sense of self importance and ambition Often engages in bad business ethics Dishonest
Charley The Lomans’ next door neighbor Successful businessman Often gives Willy financial support Described sadly as Willy’s only friend although Willy is jealous of Charley’s success
Bernard Charley’s son Successful Often mocked by Willy for being studious He cares more about Biff’s academic success than Willy does Compared to Loman sons by Willy; they do not measure up to his success
Ben 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 life Willy’s symbol of success that he desperately wants for his sons
The 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.
Howard Wagner President of the Wagner Company Successor to his father, Frank Not sympathetic to the aging Willy Loman and his problems with mental health Wrapped up in himself and his success, even though he never personally achieved it; he inherited his position with the company
Administrative Tasks 16% Telephone Selling 25.1% Waiting/ Traveling 17.4% Service Calls 12.7% Face-to-Face Selling 28.8% Companies look for ways to increase the amount of time salespeople spend selling. How Salesmen Spend Their Time
Inside Sales Force Inside Sales Force Outside Sales Force Outside Sales Force Travel to Call on Customers Travel to Call on Customers Sells to Major Accounts Sells to Major Accounts Finds Major New Prospects Finds Major New Prospects Conduct Business From Their Offices Via Phone or Buyer Visits Conduct Business From Their Offices Via Phone or Buyer Visits Technical Support People Technical Support People Tele- Marketing Or Internet Tele- Marketing Or Internet Where Typical Salesmen Work Sales Assistants Sales Assistants
Traits of Good Salespeople
As 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?