Death of a Salesman
By Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller was one of the more prolific and successful playwrights of the 1940s and 1950s. Born to Polish-Jewish immigrants in New York City on October 17, 1915, Miller enjoyed a childhood that was the epitome of the American Dream. His father owned a large clothing manufacturing business, and earned significant wealth. Though they lost much of their money in the Great Depression, Miller grew up with a unique relationship with the American Dream, which he would explore in some of his works, most famously Death of a Salesman. While Miller was very wealthy in his early childhood, the loss of the family wealth gave him experience with financial struggle; he even helped support his family during his teens. Miller also paid for his own college tuition at the University of Michigan.
It was while he was a student that Miller began receiving recognition for his writing. His early plays were considered a success, and he even had a staged production during his senior year in college. In 1947, he produced All My Sons, which was his first real critical success. In 1949, Miller wrote Death of a Salesman. He won a Pulitzer Prize for that play. The play was a tragedy, but it differed from traditional tragedies in a way that made people characterize it as something truly unique. In fact, many believe that Miller had captured the essence of America in his play. He went on to become a very politically astute playwright, further developing his role of one of the first well-known American playwrights. He was not afraid to comment on the modern American political scene, and published The Crucible in 1953, whose witch hunts were an allegory for McCarthyism.
While Death of a Salesman was written in the 1940s, it remains relevant in an America that is constantly discussing and evaluating the American Dream. It examined the premise that the American Dream was attainable for all Americans who were willing to work hard enough to achieve it and exploded that premise. Up until that time period, it was generally accepted that the American dream...Sign up to continue reading Introduction >