Death of a Salesman
In Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller wrote far better than he seems to have realized, at least if we may judge by his critical essays on the play. This is true of both the play's content—its analysis of American values— and of its technique. Miller's recent After the Fall uses the same nonlogical, subjective memory structure as the earlier play, and uses it far more consistently and skilfully, and yet is far less effective in engaging the self‐ identification by the audience for which expressionism strives. And this is not only because the experience examined in After the Fall is less common than the disaster of Willy Loman, but because the very hesitancies of technique in Death of a Salesman, its apparent uncertainty in apportioning realism and expressionism, provide a dramatic excitement of a more complex kind than Miller achieves in his later, more consistent plays.
To claim to understand a play better than its author does may sound egotistic, but we may take comfort from the fact that Miller himself says in the preface to his Collected Plays:
A writer of any worth creates out of his total perception, the vaster proportion of which is subjective and not within his intellectual control.... if it is art [that the playwright] has created, it must by definition bend itself to his observation rather than to his opinions or even his hopes.
It is the contention of this paper, therefore, that by keeping close to actual____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Contributors: Harold Bloom - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 25.
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