Death of a Salesman



  • Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning tragedy, firstperformed in New York in 1949, with Lee J. Cobb in the role of WillyLoman. Later that year the play opened at the Phoenix Theatre,London, with Paul Muni in the lead and Elia Kazan directing. In 1963it was one of a quartet of plays that opened the first season at theGuthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Other memorable revivals include the1979 National Theatre production with Warren Mitchell in the leadand the 1984 Broadway production starring Dustin Hoffman.

    Having been fired by his company at the age of 63, Willy Loman,a once-successful salesman, is trying to come to terms with his life,which he regards as a failure. In their different ways Willy, his wife Linda, and their sons Biff and Happy try to maintain a fantasy of successand to avoid the reality of their situation. Willy's flight from realityis dramatized through a series of flashbacks and imaginary conversations with his successful brother, Ben. Eventually Willy's self-esteem collapses and he takes his own life in order to raise insurance money for the family. Miller's success in creating a tragedy from what appears to be an insignificant life has been much admired.