Provide detailed background on the playwright and his method of inquiry.
Death of a Salesman is one of Arthur Miller’s most famous works. It talks about the painful encounters within one family. It also tackles larger problems about American values. The play shows the faith in the American Dream. Miller proves that America is selling false dreams and hopes.
Contrast, compare, or contextualize this in relation to other works by Arthur Miller.
Arthur Miller's work covers a collection of themes. The American working class played a huge part in his writing. An example is Joe, in All My Sons. They are often portrayed as being shallow and simple, but its society that makes them like that. The family’s poverty makes them immoral. Self-delusion is a major theme, especially in the form of the American dream. Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman self-destructs, because he cannot be happy with what he has. Loman is stuck on thinking he and his sons are destined for something greater. Miller may be suggesting that Americans will always be dissatisfied about not meeting “The American Dream”. Miller had another major theme on responsibility to others. Fatherhood is about making sacrifices, in order to support your sons. All My Sons takes the concept even further; as the title suggests, everyone should be treated as a son. That's the meaning of character; to live your life for the success of others.
Provide an actual historical context for the time period and locale discussed in the play.
When World War II ended in 1945, the United States came upon period of economic prosperity, driven by the increase in industrial production markets brought about by the war. Unlike the Great Depression and the war years, Americans had a surplus of goods and services from which to choose, and the money with which to purchase them. Americans felt so secure in their newfound prosperity; they began using credit to purchase the products and services they desired. For the first time in history, vehicles were more often purchased on credit than with cash, and the use of long-term credit, such as home mortgages, also rose dramatically. Willy Loman was suffering from the effects of relying too much on credit, struggling to keep up his payments while trying to provide needs for his family.
Provide specific details about the fictitious world of the play and the various characters.
Most of the action is set in Willy Loman's home in Brooklyn, NY. The recent population growth, the Loman’s house is boxed in by apartment buildings. Throughout the play, the huge buildings begin to kill the natural beauty that once surrounded the Loman’s home. Once there were trees, and once there was enough sunlight to grow a garden. The tight spaced buildings, which have separated the characters from nature, add to their feelings of limitations and desire to escape. Also part of the play, or at least a good portion of it, is set inside Willy's mind. All the...