An unsuccessful traveling salesman finally confronts, in his early sixties, his shattered dreams
Willy Loman is a middle-class salesman with a loving wife, Linda, and two sons, Biff and Happy. Biff is now in his 30s, a former high school football hero who wants to start a sporting goods store but has been unable to find the money to do so. Willy has also tried to raise Happy to be a man of influence, but has failed at that. Willy's life of pathos and tragedy has, in this play, become an embodiment of the pursuit of the American Dream, a pursuit gone sour. Though it is considered one of his greatest works, this play took Miller only six weeks to write.
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Reviewer: John Lahr, (New Yorker)
"All Miller knew about his new play was that it would be centered on a travelling salesman who would die at the end and that two of the lines were "Willy?" "It's all right. I came back"--words that to Miller spoke "the whole disaster in a nutshell."
Reviewer: Brooks Atkinson, (New York Times)
"'Death of a Salesman' has the flow and spontaneity of a suburban epic that may not be intended as poetry but becomes poetry in spite of itself because Mr. Miller has drawn it out of so many intangible sources."
Reviewer: Lois Gordon
"'Death of a Salesman' is a drama of a man's journey into himself; it is a man's emotional recapitulation of the experiences that have shaped him and his values, a man's confession of the dreams to which he has been committed; and it is also a man's attempt to confront, in what is ultimately a metaphysical sense, the meaning of his life and the nature of his universe."
Reviewer: Sighle Kennedy, (Catholic World)
"The questions of whether or not 'Death of a Salesman' is a great dramatic structure, or whether or not its writing is splendid or only roughly inadequate, can hold but secondary importance in any discussion of the play. Above them one fact shines: Willy Loman, egotistical, greedy, affectionate, lonely, has risen up as a modern Everyman."
Reviewer: Arthur Miller
"I set out not to 'write a tragedy' in this play, but to show the truth as I saw it."
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