Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman

3.6 131
by Arthur Miller

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The tragedy of a typical American--a salesman who at the age of 63 is faced with what he cannot face: defeat and disillusionment.


The tragedy of a typical American--a salesman who at the age of 63 is faced with what he cannot face: defeat and disillusionment.

Editorial Reviews

The touchstone of all audio stage drama.
New York Times Book Review
A contemporary classic....Listen to this album.
Publishers Weekly - Audio
This L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production of Miller’s classic play about the crashing of the American Dream is an especially poignant listen during the current financial crisis. As the Loman family’s aspirations come crashing down, patriarch Willy battles his ego and his slow decline into old age, while his two boys continue to fail as men. But with money dwindling, they must make one last attempt to find financial stability. Stacy Keach offers up an admirable rendition of Willy, for whom listeners will easily feel empathy as he swings from mood to mood. Keach’s emotional range and energy dominates what is already an impressive production in terms of acting, sound effects, and sound clarity. Jane Kaczmarek provides a winning performance as Linda Loman, battling against the dominating and condescending males within the family. This audio drama proves so enjoyable that a second listening will definitely be necessary. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
 "By common consent, this is one of the finest dramas in the whole range of the American theater." —Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times

"So simple, central, and terrible that the run of playwrights would neither care nor dare to attempt it." —Time

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 9 Up—In this full-cast performance featuring Stacy Keach and Jane Kaczmarck, Arthur Miller's 1949 classic has been recorded in front of a live audience. Miller's story of Willy Loman, the iconic traveling salesman, and his ultimate unraveling while in pursuit of the American dream invokes both empathy and pity. While Willy's linear thinking serves to illustrate his incessant need for success, his loyalty and love for his family peppers the story with humanity, making it just as relevant today as it was more than 60 years ago. The performance is powerful, with the narrators playing their characters with intensity and a humorous irony. Limited, yet calculated use of sound effects adds to the effectiveness of the production. While there are other audio versions of the play, the sound quality here is far better than previously recorded versions. Add this title to high school library collections where Death of a Salesman is part of the curriculum.—Rebecca Flannery, Lyman Memorial High School, Lebanon, CT

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:

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Note to Teacher



Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.



Preparing to Read

  1. How is the American Dream characteristic of American ideals and philosophy? What are the differences between the materialistic and the idealistic values associated with the American Dream?

Understanding the Story

Act One

Writing Responses

    Exploring Further

    * included in the Viking Critical Library edition
    ** excerpted in the Viking Critical Library edition

What People are saying about this

Arthur Miller
The suddenness of the '29 crash and the chaos that followed offered a pure instance of the impotence of individualist solutions to so vast a crisis. As a society we learned all over again that mass social organization does not neccessarily weaken moral fiber but may set the stage for great displays of heroism and self-sacrifice and endurance.

Meet the Author

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915. His first theatrical success occurred in 1947 with All My Sons, which earned him the Drama Critics Circle Award. In 1949, Death of a Salesman was given the Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Critics Circle Award and the Tony Award for Best Play. The Crucible won another Tony Award for Best Play four years later. His other plays include A View From the Bridge, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, Broken Glass and Mr. Peters' Connections. In 2001, he received The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award.

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Death of a Salesman (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for an AP English Summer Reading assignment and quite enjoyed it. It was a bit hard to follow at first but once you get started you start to understand more. It's a sad but interesting story. Warning: It's not for light readers there is depth to it so it requires a bit of thinking on the readers part.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen some really bad reviews here. Some said that Death of a Salesman was the worst book ever. Now I can imagine that some may not think as highly as I do of the book, but it can never be considered the worst ever. Those people obviously do not understand the true meaning and messages of the book, the things that maake Death of a Salesman a timeless masterpiece. For you dumb shmucks out there, some thing the book was really about: communism; capitalism- in the cold and callous business world, personal connections and compassion and comprimised for profit and performace; trying to fulfill one's dreams with his children; escape from an undesirable life; sacrifice; -- just to name a few. So, before you rip on a book, or anything, make sure you fully understand it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Miller's play is an intimate study of the tragedy one family faces and their singular reaction to it. The characters are so rich in their depiction of disillusionment, and they vividly exemplify the intense desire for an easier life. I thoroughly enjoyed this play.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Death of a Saleman is an excellent play which everyone should read. I read it for my AP English and Composition class. There are many hidden facts and information which make the play more interesting and more complex then you may not see the first time you read it.
Been_There_Done_That More than 1 year ago
Valuable literary experience, but so profoundly depressing. Definitely not something to read while you're trying to enjoy a vacation. Don't read it until our current economic depression is over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though to many the play can seem dull and dreary, it cannot leave you untouched. It makes you internally search, wondering if you too are like Willy, reaching for something that will never be grasped. Willy was always searching for his own diamond, yet only in death could he find it. The play is simplistic at times, but one would have to take some serious thought in order to understand all of its aspects. You must mull over it for awhile and turn it over in your mind a few times before being able to truely understand and appreciate it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Miller's view on the American Dream symbolizes the culture of Willy Loman and how he reacts toward the different situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller is an eye opening collision of idealism and the "American Dream" with the harsh realities of everyday life. This dramatic play gives Arthur's strong opinions on success in America. Miller's own family was successful in business and was very wealthy up until the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which left them nearly broke. This personal connection to the plot makes the emotional appeals to the audience very effective. Amidst the delusion of Willy's success as a businessman, Biff as a well-liked and respected worker, and Linda and Willy's marriage as being immaculate, the message that not everything is perfect contrasts quite sharply as we begin to discover what is wrong with Willy. When we get introduced to Willy and his family, everything appears to be very idealistic: a husband that has no problem providing for the family, two sons with a great amount of potential, and a caring wife. But as the blinds come off of the household, the vision of perfection becomes unraveled, and for the most part, what seems true proves to be the opposite. I found many of the feelings of chaos and uncertainty very relatable but also kind of terrifying. The suggestion that success can be but an illusion is a convicting one for someone who is about to go to college and begin to try succeeding in life. It is a powerful reminder that a multi-perceptive view of the world is so crucial, as Biff learns later in the play as he copes with all that has happened. Before reading this play, I had considered probably my whole life that success does not look the same to each person, but this play presented me with the possibility that failure could still be masked as success, which has made me more cautious (or knowingly daring) with the decisions I make in the future. Overall, the play was one I would love to see done onstage sometime, but also a very powerful script that will stay with me for awhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is excellent, but the Nook rendering is very disappointing. No matter what text size I select, the formatting  is off: 1-word lines abound, the indents are off, and the reading experience is considerably compromised.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arthur Miller describes a families desperate attempt to cling to the American dream while simultaneously bringing the utopian fantasy life crashing down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read this short play and I found myself amazed at how I actually liked the plotline. It is easy to connect with the main character. Overall a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love arthur miller and love reading plays. Don't read if you're looking for something uplifting, though!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone that does not appreciate the story of the Loman family (its about the entire family, not just Willy), complain about how "boring" the story is, or fails to find any meaning in the story, is a stupid person. Plain and simple. Go read the Hunger Games or some ish. In short, everyone who rated Death of a Salesmen 1 Star was basically ranking their intelligence the same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How the frik are you posting from 2001
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller is the story of an old and increasingly unsuccessful salesman named Willie. Willie grows crazier and crazier and has more and more flashbacks to different moments in his life that he realized could have changed his entire life, if he had done one thing different. When his two sons, Biff and Happy, come to visit for a while, he becomes more depressed after seeing how much of a failure Biff is, and how seeing that no matter how many different women Happy can get, he will never be able to get a wife, or impress his father the way that Biff used to. With an emotional ending that leaves you satisfied and impressed, Death of a Salesman was a very good play.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book didnt really get my attention in the beginning, but i like that its a play
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