Monday, August 11, 2014

Review- Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Goodreads Summary: 

'For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine.'

Willy Loman has been a salesman for 34 years. At 60, he is cast aside, his usefulness exhausted. With no future to dream about he must face the crushing disappointments of his past. He takes one final brave action, but is he heroic at last or a self-deluding fool?

This edition contains notes and activities to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the play.


I wasn't even aware of a play named Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller until my professor recommended it to me after we had a discussion on tragedies when doing Aristotle's Poetics. At that time, while I did agree that tragedy can strike anyone, I believed that a tragedy has an effect on a larger audience when it strikes someone of higher status in society. My reason was that catharsis has a greater chance of occurring when one person's tragedy doesn't just affect that one person, but an entire section of the population entirely. I now get when I was asked to read Death of a Salesman. The play did it's job in proving to me that when tragedy strikes common people like you and me, it has an even bigger impact because it makes everything so believable and real. 

Death of a Salesman was the first play or work even of Arthur Miller that I read. And it was meticulous. I absolutely loved the way it was executed. The language was simple and the plot, extremely easy to follow and understand. While I thought I wouldn't be able to fathom the basis of the play since I find it every difficult to understand plays in general, Death of a Salesman was, like I said, really easy and simple. It was simply outstanding and I can now understand why it has been touted as one of the greatest plays of its time. I admit that the characters were slightly confusing and at times, it got difficult to keep track of them all. The ending seemed a little off and vague to me, but I got what happened and that is what matters, I suppose. Keeping that aside though, whatever took place was necessary to take place and it made the play very realistic. 

WILLY (moving to the right): Funny, y'know? After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive. 

How much more real can it get, huh? This time around, I also took notice of many, many aspects that I would have let pass without a second glance otherwise. That's simply because my brain has been trained to observe in a critical way now. The dynamics of the play made me question society in general and king or commoner, we are all subject to tragedy in whatever form it decides to come to us, economic, political, social, whatever. There was comedy in it but I didn't really feel like laughing. It was a family drama so to say. But I looked at it more as tragedy and the play gave me what it was supposed to. I can't seem to appreciate it as much as others have in the past and I am slightly at a loss for words, but I still loved Death of a Salesman and I am glad I read it. 



  1. I haven't read this, but I have read The Crucible by Arthur Miller and I remember having a similar experience with that one. It also gave me a lot to think about and ponder! I'll have to read this one sometime because even if it doesn't absolutely WOW me, it still sounds like it's definitely worth reading at least once!

  2. I have heard of Arthur Miller and I think we'll read some of his plays next semester. I'm really looking forward to it as this one sounds really good. I love how realistic it is. I usually have problems with characters in plays, mostly as they rarely have any descriptions and I am really bad with names. So yeah I understand that. Great review, Sarika ;))


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