Death of a Salesman

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A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO THE PENGUIN EDITION OF

ARTHUR MILLER’S

DEATH OF A SALESMAN
By RANDEANE TETU, Middlesex Community College, Middletown, CT

A Teacher’s Guide to Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

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NOTE TO THE TEACHER The questions, exercises, and assignments on these pages are designed to guide students’ reading of the literary work and to provide suggestions for exploring the implications of the story through discussions, research, and writing. Most of the items can be handled individually, but small group and whole class discussions will enhance comprehension. The Response Journal should provide students with a means, first, for recording their ideas, feelings, and concerns, and then for reflecting these thoughts in their writing assignments and class discussions. These sheets may be duplicated, but teachers should select and modify items according to the needs and abilities of their students. INTRODUCTION America has long been known as a land of opportunity. Out of that thinking comes the “American Dream,” the idea that anyone can ultimately achieve success, even if he or she began with nothing. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, we follow Willy Loman as he reviews a life of desperate pursuit of a dream of success. In this classic drama, the playwright suggests to his audience both what is truthful and what is illusory in the American Dream and, hence, in the lives of millions of Americans. Unusual in its presentation of a common man as a tragic figure, the play received the Pulitzer Prize as well as the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award when it was produced and published in 1949. About the writing of the play, Miller says, “I wished to create a form which, in itself as a form, would literally be the process of Willy Loman’s way of mind.” To accomplish this Miller uses the sense of time on stage in an unconventional way to illustrate that, for Willy Loman, “...the voice of the past is no longer distant but quite as loud as the voice

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