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Death of a Salesman

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

Appearances Theme

The entire Loman family places heavy value on appearances and good looks. Many of Willy's fondest memories of Biff involve his son dwarfing others with his personal attractiveness. In addition, when Willy gives in to feelings of self-doubt, he worries that it's his appearance that's holding him back in business. Death of a Salesman may be making a larger statement, by showing the Lomans' fixation on attractiveness over real substance. Could the play be trying to get across the idea that all of America falls prey to the very same mistake? What do you think? Is America itself way too obsessed with image and appearance?

Questions About Appearances

  1. What relationship, if any, does appearance have with success in Death of a Salesman?
  2. What might the Lomans’ fixation on appearances suggest about their abilities in other areas?
  3. Discuss the passage in which Willy attributes his business problems to his appearance. What makes him think this is the source of his problems?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Biff’s dedication to keeping up his appearance suggests his remaining desire to impress his father.

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