Exhausted and beaten down Willy Loman returns to his Brooklyn home one evening having just completed another failed sales trip. Linda, his wife, is frustrated that Willy must travel so much and urges him to ask his boss, Howard Wagner, to allow him to work in New York. After promising Linda that he will discuss the matter with Howard the next day he complains about his son Biff. Having come home to visit, Biff, the older of two sons, is not living up to his father’s expectations. As Willy mutters to himself in the kitchen, Biff and his younger brother, Happy, sit and talk about the days of their childhood and their dream of someday buying a ranch out West. Willy also falls into a daydream, which consists of his sons as younger boys, washing his car. They are happy to see their father, who has just returned from a business trip that he claims was successful. Linda gets him to reveal the truth, that it wasn’t successful enough to make all of their monthly payments, but she consoles him.
We eventually learn that Willy has a brother Ben, who traveled to Alaska and Africa, discovered a diamond mine and became rich. He recently passed away, and Willy views him as a symbol of the success that he was never able to achieve. As Willy reminisces of talking with Ben, Happy and Biff talk to their mother and complain about Willy’s failures. Linda tells her sons that he tried to commit suicide, which angers them even more. After further argument the family goes to bed. The remainder of the play follows the rest of Willy’s life, which ends sadly soon after.
Considered a classic of American theater Death of a Salesman was written by Arthur Miller in 1949. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 1949 Tony award for Best Play it is one of the most highly revered plays. This tragic tale of the American dream was the first to win three major awards, and continues to be successfully adapted today.