Study Guide

Death of a Salesman Success

By Arthur Miller


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Throughout Death of a Salesman, Willy pursues concrete evidence of his worth and success. He is entranced by the very physical, tangible results of Ben’s diamond-mining efforts and strives to validate his own life by imagining similar material signifiers of success. Willy projects his own obsession with material achievement onto his sons, who struggle with a conflict between their intangible needs and the pressure to succeed materially. Let's just hope they have better luck than their parents at figuring it all out. 

Questions About Success

  1. To what extent is tangible wealth essential to Willy? To Happy? Biff? Linda? Charley and Bernard?
  2. How is the possession of tangible wealth linked to the concept of freedom and escape in Death of a Salesman?

Chew on This

Willy’s obsession with obtaining concrete evidence of success distracts him from recognizing the important intangibles in his life, particularly the love of his family members.

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