Death of a Salesman and Post War American Drama

Drama and Theater / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
The following paper critically examines Arthur Miller’s `Death of a Salesman` which, according to the author, is fundamentally inner-directed rather than outer-directed.

The following paper examines the fundamental distinction made between the two forms of American drama to emerge from the United States during the post-war period. These two trends are said to be represented by the authors Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. This paper focuses on Arthur Miller, who takes a more Ibsen-like approach to drama. `Death of A Salesman` is made reference to throughout.

Table of Contents

Common Critical Opinions About Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
This Paper’s Thesis about Death of a Salesman
What is a Tragic Character?
Why Willy Loman is a Tragic Character.
Why Willy Loman is similar to other Tragic Heroes.
What is the Play’s Thesis about American Society?
Why Willy Loman is not Just an American Everyman.
Arthur Miller’s own view of Willy Loman.
Willy Loman outside of an American Context
The Play-text’s View of Willy Loman
Conclusion

“Tragedy is defined as a form of drama that depicts the suffering of a heroic individual who is often overcome by the very obstacles he is struggling to remove. The protagonist may be brought low by a character flaw or, a the philosopher Hegel stated, caught in a “collision of equally justified ethical aims.” (Encyclopedia.com) Miller himself commented that “Willy Loman has broken a law without whose protection life is insupportable if not incomprehensible to him and to many other; it is the law which says that a failure in society and in business has no right to live.” (Drama for Students 71) At first Loman cannot accept his son Biff’s life because Biff works on a ranch for a living, like a boy. (31) But Biff shows him that the ideals of success Willy holds are simply untenable for Biff, at least now that the son has attained the age of thirty-four.”


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