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Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller The American Dream: At what cost? The American Dream: At what cost?

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Presentation on theme: "Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller The American Dream: At what cost? The American Dream: At what cost?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller The American Dream: At what cost? The American Dream: At what cost?

2 THE PLAY Death of a Salesman,Miller ’ s most famous work, addresses the painful conflicts within one family, but it also tackles larger issues regarding American national values. The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream, that success and status are rights, not earned privileges.

3 About the Playwright: Arthur Miller  Born in New York City on October 17, 1915  Began as playwright at University of Michigan  Pulitzer Prize winner for Death of A Salesman Pulitzer Prize  Double winner of New York Drama Critics Circle Award  Born in New York City on October 17, 1915  Began as playwright at University of Michigan  Pulitzer Prize winner for Death of A Salesman Pulitzer Prize  Double winner of New York Drama Critics Circle Award

4 Miller’s Legal Troubles  Suspected of being a Communist sympathizer  Death seen as un-American  Miller has troubles with the House of Unamerican Activity/McCarthy  Miller denied a passport  HUAC pressures NYC not to allow Miller to make a film for them on juvenile delinquency  Suspected of being a Communist sympathizer  Death seen as un-American  Miller has troubles with the House of Unamerican Activity/McCarthy  Miller denied a passport  HUAC pressures NYC not to allow Miller to make a film for them on juvenile delinquency

5 The Saga Continues...  Miller convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names And then...  US Court of Appeals overturns his contempt conviction  Miller convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names And then...  US Court of Appeals overturns his contempt conviction

6 ARTHUR MILLER  He published The Crucible in 1953, a searing indictment of the anti-Communist hysteria that pervaded 1950s America, which is set during the Salem Witch Trials of Miller is also famous for having been one of Marilyn Monroe ’ s husbands! He died in 2005.

7 AMERICAN DREAM  It is a play viewed by many as a scathing attack on the American Dream of achieving wealth and success without regard for principle or moralsAmerican Dream  It is a play viewed by many as a scathing attack on the American Dream of achieving wealth and success without regard for principle or moralsAmerican Dream

8 AMERICAN DREAM  The American Dream is a belief that in the United States of America, hard work and determination can lead to a better life, usually through the earning of money. These were values held by many early European settlers, and have been passed on to the newer generations.United States of America  The American Dream is a belief that in the United States of America, hard work and determination can lead to a better life, usually through the earning of money. These were values held by many early European settlers, and have been passed on to the newer generations.United States of America

9 AMERICAN DREAM  Traditionally, Americans have sought to realize the American dream of success, fame and wealth through thrift and hard work. However, the industrialization of the 20th centuries began to erode the dream, replacing it with a philosophy of "get rich quick".  A variety of seductive strategies have evolved, and today the three leading ways to instant wealth are  large-prize television game shows,  big-jackpot state lotteries  compensation lawsuits.  Traditionally, Americans have sought to realize the American dream of success, fame and wealth through thrift and hard work. However, the industrialization of the 20th centuries began to erode the dream, replacing it with a philosophy of "get rich quick".  A variety of seductive strategies have evolved, and today the three leading ways to instant wealth are  large-prize television game shows,  big-jackpot state lotteries  compensation lawsuits.

10 The play centers on Willy Loman, an aging salesman who is beginning to lose his grip on reality. Willy places great emphasis on his supposed native charm and ability to make friends;salesman

11 TRAGIC FLAW IN A TRAGIC HERO. Tragic Flaw: a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy; excessive pride financial greed). Willy’s tragic flaw is intragic flaw failing to question whether the dream is valid. Tragic Flaw: a flaw in character that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy; excessive pride financial greed). Willy’s tragic flaw is intragic flaw failing to question whether the dream is valid

12 A few key traits of the Tragic Hero  Usually evokes sympathy…  Has a weakness, usually pride  Something has gone awry in his/her life  Usually faced with a very serious decision he must make  Must understand his mistakes…  Likely doomed from the start…  Usually evokes sympathy…  Has a weakness, usually pride  Something has gone awry in his/her life  Usually faced with a very serious decision he must make  Must understand his mistakes…  Likely doomed from the start…

13 Initial Themes  Addresses family conflict in post World War II America (1949)  Takes a close look at the price paid for the “American Dream”  Charges America with creating a capitalist materialism centered around a postwar economy  Addresses family conflict in post World War II America (1949)  Takes a close look at the price paid for the “American Dream”  Charges America with creating a capitalist materialism centered around a postwar economy

14 Themes in Death  Willy Loman as a modern tragic hero  An individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life (not Willy, but Biff)  failure in pursuit of success  Man’s need to “leave a thumbprint somewhere in the world.”  An examination of the materialistic values of society  Willy Loman as a modern tragic hero  An individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life (not Willy, but Biff)  failure in pursuit of success  Man’s need to “leave a thumbprint somewhere in the world.”  An examination of the materialistic values of society

15 More themes in Death  The love of a father for a son and a son (Biff) for a father  The conflict between father and son  The problem of communication  Abandonment  The love of a father for a son and a son (Biff) for a father  The conflict between father and son  The problem of communication  Abandonment

16 Add: Themes  Abandonment : The not-so-positive transient nature of mankind  Betrayal : Willy’s primary obsession (Biff)  Abandonment : The not-so-positive transient nature of mankind  Betrayal : Willy’s primary obsession (Biff)

17 Symbols  Seeds: opportunity for growth, but will not always germinate.  Diamonds: Material & tangible wealth  The Woman’s Stockings: betrayal and infidelity.  The Rubber Hose: Suicide  Alaska, Africa…The American West: success and failure  Seeds: opportunity for growth, but will not always germinate.  Diamonds: Material & tangible wealth  The Woman’s Stockings: betrayal and infidelity.  The Rubber Hose: Suicide  Alaska, Africa…The American West: success and failure

18 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 his society. 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 his society.

19 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.  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.

20 Act 1 An air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality.  How does this serve to foreshadow Willy Loman’s life? An air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality.  How does this serve to foreshadow Willy Loman’s life?

21 Major Characters  Willy Loman  Biff Loman  Linda Loman  Happy Loman  Charley  Bernard  Ben  Willy Loman  Biff Loman  Linda Loman  Happy Loman  Charley  Bernard  Ben  The Woman  Howard Wagner  Stanley  Jenny  Miss Forsythe and Letta  The Woman  Howard Wagner  Stanley  Jenny  Miss Forsythe and Letta

22 Willy Loman  Father, traveling salesman  Believes in chasing the American Dream although he never achieves it  Pins his failed hopes on his sons, Biff and Happy  Becomes mentally ill when pressure of reality crushes his illusions  Father, traveling salesman  Believes in chasing the American Dream although he never achieves it  Pins his failed hopes on his sons, Biff and Happy  Becomes mentally ill when pressure of reality crushes his illusions

23 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  Represents Willy’s vulnerable, tragic side  Fails to reconcile his father’s expectations  Elder son, 34 years old  High school standout-football star, many male friends, and female admirers  Academic failures lead to a life of kleptomania  Represents Willy’s vulnerable, tragic side  Fails to reconcile his father’s expectations

24 Linda Loman  Loving, devoted wife  Naïve and realistic of Willy’s hopes  Emotionally supportive of Willy  Willy’s strength until his tragic perishing  Loving, devoted wife  Naïve and realistic of Willy’s hopes  Emotionally supportive of Willy  Willy’s strength until his tragic perishing

25 Happy Loman  Younger son, 32 years old  In Biff’s shadow all his life  Relentless sex and professional drive  Represents Willy’s sense of self importance and ambition  Often engages in bad business ethics  Younger son, 32 years old  In Biff’s shadow all his life  Relentless sex and professional drive  Represents Willy’s sense of self importance and ambition  Often engages in bad business ethics

26 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  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

27 Bernard  Charley’s son  Successful lawyer  Often mocked by Willy for being studious  Compared to Loman sons by Willy; they do not measure up to his success  Charley’s son  Successful lawyer  Often mocked by Willy for being studious  Compared to Loman sons by Willy; they do not measure up to his success

28 Ben  Willy’s deceased older brother  Independently wealthy  Appears to Willy in daydreams  Willy’s symbol of success that he desperately wants for his sons  Willy’s deceased older brother  Independently wealthy  Appears to Willy in daydreams  Willy’s symbol of success that he desperately wants for his sons

29 The Woman  Willy’s mistress  Her admiration for Willy is an ego boost  Biff catches Willy with her in a hotel room  Biff loses faith in his father due to infidelity  Willy’s mistress  Her admiration for Willy is an ego boost  Biff catches Willy with her in a hotel room  Biff loses faith in his father due to infidelity


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