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Death of a Salesman Discussion Questions

Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

In this lesson, we will have a look at some questions from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. These questions are aimed at encouraging meaningful discussions about the play, and are arranged by topic.

Background

Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning play Death of a Salesman is considered one of the classic American plays of the 20th century. Premiering in 1949, it examines the American Dream, and how everyone has their own version of that ideal. It also employs some literary devices to emphasize its points, such as flashbacks to distinguish that ideal from reality. It is a complex and powerful play, and merits much discussion. So with that in mind, let us look at some discussion topics from the play.

Questions About Ambition

  • Discuss Willy Loman's home. How does its physical existence over time make it a metaphor for what he wants to achieve?
  • Consider all the major characters in Death of a Salesman. Do they all want the same thing? Do any of them achieve their goals?
  • Willy Loman says that being well liked is a necessary component of success. Think about some of the successful people today, and discuss whether or not Willy's philosophy has any credence.
  • Do you think Arthur Miller chose the last name Loman for his main character, for a reason? Does it mean anything to you in the context of the play? Do you think his last name plays a role in Willy's fate?

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