Death of a Salesman Study Guide

Is the American dream attainable? What makes you a successful person? How does the image of yourself shape your life? The play is a tragic but true illustration of these philosophical questions without final answers. This Death of a Salesman Study Guide will help you understand the author’s intention and the complicated relationships between the characters.

Death of a Salesman Key Facts   

Full Name Death of a Salesman  
Author Arthur Miller  
Genre Tragedy, stage play  
Date of Premiere 10 February 1949  
Setting (Time) Late 1940s  
Setting (Place) Willy Loman’s house in Brooklyn; Manhattan and Boston  

Death of a Salesman Articles

Death of a Salesman: Summary

Looking for a summary of Death of a Salesman? This article contains everything you might need: a plot infographic, a short summary, and detailed descriptions of the events in the play, act by act.

Death of a Salesman: Characters

This article contains everything about Death of a Salesman characters: Willy Loman, Biff Loman, Happy Loman, Linda Loman, the Woman, and others. In the first section, you’ll find Death of a Salesman character map.

Death of a Salesman: Themes

The article explains the key themes in Death of a Salesman. The American dream, family, betrayal, and abandonment are the core issues represented in the play by Arthur Miller.

Death of a Salesman: Analysis

Like any other writing piece, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman contains various literary devices to discuss, symbols to interpret, and motifs to find. That is what this section is about! 

Death of a Salesman: Essay Topics & Samples

The article aims to help you if you are looking for a decent essay topic on Death of a Salesman or have to choose between many variants. It contains a list of ideas that might help you write a great essay.

Historical Context of Death of a Salesman

Ten years before the play, the Great Depression ended (1929 – 1939). The stock market crashed. The US economy plummeted worse than ever before. Many companies, banks, and ordinary people lost everything. Their lives and confidence about the future were ruined.  

The play was premiered in 1949, just several years after WWII. The war kick-started the limping economy through massive production of mechanized weapons and new transport. Advancements in medicine and communication technologies also helped the world economy recover. When the war ended, factories switched to producing domestic appliances. Washing machines, refrigerators, and personal cars became affordable for most households. This rush for material goods spurred public optimism about the American dream. If you work hard, you will have all those things that make your life easier. Thus, you and your family will be happy. But the novel shows that it was not that simple.  

It is necessary to analyze Death of a Salesman in the context of these historical events. It shows the personal aftermath of the Great Depression. A lifelong career does not secure any financial benefits or emotional stability for an individual (as in the case of Willy Loman). The character fails to adapt to the new world or find his place in it. He follows his father’s instructions to work in an artificial urban environment, overlooking his willingness to work on a farm. The author gives us a chance to ponder over the question of whether Willy could have done better as a farmer than he did as a salesman.

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