Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller

A scene from this play was mentioned in my contracts and torts class this semester, so I decided to read the full thing. I’m not sure how to feel about this play. On the one hand, I think the play wants me to sympathize with Willy and his sons, and I just flat don’t. The struggling American man, driven insane by the drudgery of capitalism and the loss of his dream to be a land-stealing, misogynist rich asshole doesn’t resonate with me. On the other hand, I appreciate that the play does recognize on some level that the plight of Willy and his sons is not universal—Bernard is depicted as successful, in contrast to Willy’s sons, apparently because he actually studied. Biff’s self-realization at the end of the play that he is “a dime a dozen” seems sincere, and if it is then I appreciate the play’s willingness to shine a harsh light on the internally-created inadequacies of the kind of man that the male Loman’s represent. However, the sorrowful tone at the end of the play undercuts what I want to be a self-critical theme, leaving me largely unsatisfied. In sum, I’d like to see the play produced on stage to decide whether I like it or not.