Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: A Re-evaluation

Author: Gunasekaran Narayanan, Government Arts College, India
Published: October 2015

Citation: Narayanan, G. (2015). Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: A Re-evaluation. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 3(1).


Miller, in his “Introduction” to the Collected Plays, says that Death of a Salesman is a play that poses the question … “whose answers define humanity?” (32). Both the popular and critical acclaim that the play has received so far confirms the author’s description of it. The play deals
with the distance between illusion and reality, the sense of isolation, lack of understanding and the struggle for being. The central energy of Salesman is derived from an explanation of technological culture, in which illusion takes the place of dreams, and fantasy substitutes reality. This phenomenon, ignorance of reality or non-recognition of facts, has been a potent source of European theatre since the time of the Greeks; but what lends weight to Miller’s discovery is that it is not an exceptional experience to a few but is actually common throughout industrial civilization. Miller points out with remarkable artistic perception the hold of illusions on individuals and its disastrous consequences, the dreams that are intertwined with illusions, the gulf that separates the actual practices from the professed ideals of society.


Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, illusion and reality