Skip over navigation

Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem

author  · Arthur Miller

type of work  · Play

genre  · Tragedy, social commentary, family drama

language  · English (with emphasis on middle-class American lingo)

time and place written  · Six weeks in 1948, in a shed in Connecticut

date of first publication  ·  1949

original publisher  · The Viking Press

climax  · The scene in Frank’s Chop House and Biff’s final confrontation with Willy at home

protagonists  · Willy Loman, Biff Loman

antagonists  · Biff Loman, Willy Loman, the American Dream

setting (time)  · “Today,” that is, the present; either the late 1940s or the time period in which the play is being produced, with “daydreams” into Willy’s past; all of the action takes place during a twenty-four-hour period between Monday night and Tuesday night, except the “Requiem,” which takes place, presumably, a few days after Willy’s funeral

setting (place)  · According to the stage directions, “Willy Loman’s house and yard [in Brooklyn] and . . . various places he visits in . . . New York and Boston”

falling action  · The “Requiem” section, although the play is not really structured as a classical drama

tense  · Present

foreshadowing  · Willy’s flute theme foreshadows the revelation of his father’s occupation and abandonment; Willy’s preoccupation with Linda’s stockings foreshadows his affair with The Woman; Willy’s automobile accident before the start of Act I foreshadows his suicide at the end of Act II

tone  · The tone of Miller’s stage directions and dialogue ranges from sincere to parodying, but, in general, the treatment is tender, though at times brutally honest, toward Willy’s plight

themes  · The American Dream; abandonment; betrayal

motifs  · Mythic figures; the American West; Alaska; the African jungle

symbols  · Seeds; diamonds; Linda’s and The Woman’s stockings; the rubber hose

More Help

Previous Next
Simple Minded

by WhiteRaven007, October 09, 2012

I went on here to review for a test, and it was a complete waste of time. The interpretation of the play is no narrow minded my 10 year old brother could have figured it out.


27 out of 176 people found this helpful

Death of a Salesman

by rjkbasck, March 01, 2013

I saw the play; Sparknotes is an excellent recap of the play.


20 out of 26 people found this helpful


by manoymano, March 02, 2013

Id be better off just reading the book.


6 out of 28 people found this helpful

See all 9 readers' notes   →

Follow Us