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Death of a Salesman


Summary of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller


"Death of a Salesman" is a classic play written by Arthur Miller, focusing on the tragic life of Willy Loman, a traveling salesman. Set in the late 1940s, it explores themes of the American Dream, disillusionment, and family dynamics.


  • Willy Loman: The protagonist, a salesman who is disillusioned with his lack of success.
  • Linda Loman: Willy's supportive but passive wife.
  • Biff Loman: Willy's elder son, who struggles to find his identity.
  • Happy Loman: The younger son, always trying to please his father.
  • Charley: Willy's neighbor and only friend.
  • Ben: Willy's deceased brother, representing success and adventure.

Plot Summary

The play opens with Willy Loman returning home from a business trip, exhausted and disillusioned. His sons, Biff and Happy, are visiting, causing Willy to reflect on his life and his perceived failures. The narrative shifts between the present and Willy's memories, revealing his obsession with success and the American Dream. Willy's relationship with Biff is strained due to Biff's inability to settle into a career, which Willy sees as a personal failure.

Throughout the play, Willy's mental state deteriorates as he clings to his unrealistic expectations for himself and his sons. He is haunted by the success of his brother Ben and his own unfulfilled dreams. Willy's loyal wife, Linda, struggles to support him while maintaining peace in the family.

The climax occurs when Biff confronts Willy with the truth about their reality, shattering Willy's illusions. This confrontation leads to Willy's tragic decision, believing his death would provide financial security for his family through life insurance.


  • The American Dream: The play critiques the idea of achieving success and prosperity through sheer hard work and charisma.
  • Reality vs. Illusion: Willy's refusal to accept the reality of his situation versus the illusions he has built around himself and his family.
  • Family and Betrayal: The complex dynamics and conflicts within the Loman family, especially between Willy and Biff.
  • Disillusionment and Identity: The characters' struggles with their identities and the harsh realities of their lives versus their aspirations.


"Death of a Salesman" is significant for its deep exploration of the American psyche and the societal pressures of success and achievement. It remains a poignant commentary on the pursuit of the American Dream and its impact on individual lives and family relationships.


Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" is a powerful drama that delves into the heart of American values and the tragic consequences of unrealized dreams. It's a timeless piece that continues to resonate with audiences, reflecting the universal themes of aspiration, disillusionment, and the human condition.