Death of a Salesman - Context (historical, social, political and cultural)
Death of a Salesman is a play that consists of a HISTORICAL background which is key to understanding the play. It was written in 1949, just a few years after the World War ll was over, meaning the United States, where the play occurs, was going through many changes. For example, the war caused an increase in industrial production markets and non-farming business. For the poorest Americans, however, the economic situation was not improved as America started having high inflation, causing problems for the poorest citizens to purchase the basics. Also, the government started to create policies which helped larger corporate farmers but not smaller farmers. Happy, a sales clerk and Biff, a farm worker, had the lowest-paid jobs in the country, leading them to some trouble in maintaining dignity in society. For Americans, dignity and pride were very important things. Due to their victories during the war, Americans felt proud and had a feeling of superiority over the world. This lead to their need of proving that capitalism was better than communism. Because of this, Americans felt responsible for protecting their nation from any influences from communist Soviet Union. This period of time where Americans felt the obligation to achieve financial success in order to show gratitude for the liberty they had as a democratic society and also to defeat the Soviets is now called the Cold War era. During this period of time, people like Willy relied too much on long-term credit to show they were financially successful and ended up having trouble in giving their families the basics. In the play, this Cold War attitude is shown by Willy's preoccupation with his position in society and financial status. Willy's worry also represents some of the SOCIAL context in the play as he fears not being accepted in society; he wants to be "well liked". American society changed after WWll. Before, people were...
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