February 18, 2013
Baym, Nina. "Arthur Miller." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 7th ed. Vol. 2nd. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. 1284-350. Print.
A good source is crucial to a good research paper. In this case, like many others, using the book provided by your school can prove to be a great place to start out. This idea once again has not failed me. The Norton Anthology of American Literature has extensive biographies on the authors of a specific work preceding the actual story, play, or poem. Specific quotes from Arthur Miller, his history in writing, and his family life, all help to piece together the story that leads up to the stunning success of Death of a Salesman.
Arthur Miller was born in 1915 to a German Jewish family in the center of Manhattan, New York. His father was a hard working clothing manufacturer, while his mother stayed home with the kids and had a great interest in reading. With the Great Depression, his father’s clothing store went down just as hard as the stock market in 1929. They then moved to Brooklyn where Miller found a job in an automobile-parts warehouse to attempt to fund college tuition. He was later accepted into the University of Michigan as a journalism student. He later got a job for the Federal Theater Project, where he wrote plays, toured army camps for a film, and met Mary Slattery, who he would later marry. His first success was a Broadway play called All My Sons (1944). It was a “strongly realistic portrayal of a family divided because of the father’s insistence on business as usual during World War II” (1284). Two years later, he produced Death of a Salesman, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Sickels, Amy. “CRITICAL CONTEXTS: Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman: History Of Criticism.” Critical Insights: Death Of A Salesman (2010): 76-91. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2013
Amy Sickels, a respected critic in the literary world, calls Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman “One of America's most popular plays”(76) and that it “generated more debate than any other modem drama in America”(76). This was not his first play, or his last play, but it was a play that caught the attention of critics not only in America, but all across the world. “Selling 11 million copies. Death of a Salesman is considered by many to be the quintessential American drama” (76).
In 1948, three years after the wars end, Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman as a direct response to the war, and the American affluence that came with the great victory in Japan and Europe. Not only was the war a considerable influence on the story, the Depression still held a looming affect on America and he intertwined the new found wealth, with the fear that it can be taken at any instant. “While addressing the emotional conflicts within one family, the play critically examines the myth of the American Dream” (76). Although the play was a massive success, later in the 1950s, Miller’s popularity began to wane because of some of his new plays. It was easily noticed that the motivation for his writing was beginning to diminish, and it was showing in his work. By 1952, Elia Kazan, the director of Death of a Salesman became paranoid of becoming Blacklisted and her and Miller moved to Massachusetts in search for motivation for a new play. They found their motivation in the witch trials being conducted at the time. He wrote The Crucible which started as a serious failure, but eventually became one of his most reproduced dramas. Jacobson, Irving. “CRITICAL READINGS: Family Dreams In Death Of A Salesman.” Critical Insights: Death Of A Salesman (2010): 106-119. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Feb. 2013 Irving Jacobson takes a different approach to Death of a Salesman. He approaches it from the aspect of the nuclear family pursuing the “American Dream”. It has been noted by many different critics “much of Miller's work developed from the image...
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