Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman: Psychological Criticism and Deconstruction

Arthur Miller's American masterpiece Death of a Salesman, first presented on the stage in New York City in 1949, represents a successful literary attempt at blending the themes of social and personal tragedy within the same dramatic framework. Yet the story of Willy Loman is also one of false values sustained by almost every publicity agency in the national life of the United States. Thus, Willy Loman accepts at face value the over-publicized ideals of material success and blatant optimism, and therein lies his own personal tragedy. His downfall and final defeat illustrate not only the failure of a man but also the failure of a way of life, being a door-to-door salesman. Miller's ability to project this story of his tragic, lower middle-class hero into the common experience of so many Americans, who sustain themselves and their families with illusions and ignore realities, makes Death of a Salesman one of the most significant plays in American theater within the last fifty years.

The character of Willy Loman, the themes of social and personal tragedy, and the overall commonality found within Miller's play are prime territories for further exploration through the use of psychological criticism and literary...

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