Tennessee Williams

         
         
      Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman (1949)
      1. How is Miller's handling of "illusion vs. reality"? What is the symbolic function of the jungle? How does the flute music function symbolically?
      2. In what ways do Ben and Charley function as opposites?
      3. Do you find Willy pathetic rather than tragic? If pathetic, does this imply that Willy is a victim rather than a man who acts and who wins our esteem? How much of Willy Loman's tragedy is caused by his own personality and how much is the result of the American society?
      4. Do you feel that Miller is straining too hard to turn a play about a little man into a big, impressive play? For example, do the musical themes, the unrealistic setting, the appearances of Ben, and the speech at the grave seem out of keeping in a play about the death of a salesman?
      5. The critic Kenneth Tynan has written, in Tynan Right and Left: "Death of a Salesman K is not a tragedy. Its catastrophe depends entirely on the fact that the company Willy Loman works for no pension scheme for its emplyees. What ultimately destroys Willy is economic injustice, which is curable, as the ills that plague Oedipus do not." What do you think of Tynan's view?
      6. Characterize Linda and comment on the role she plays.

      7. Miller says that tragedy shows man's struggle to secure "his sense of personal dignity" and that "his destruction in the attempt posits a wrong or an evil in his environment" ("Tragedy and the Common Man"). Do you think this makes sense when applied to some earlier tragedy (such as Oedipus the King or Hamlet), and does it apply convincingly to Death of a Salesman? Is this the tragedy of an individual's own making? Or is society at fault for corrupting and exploiting Willy? Or both?
  GDeath of a Salesman (Introduction to Literature, Spring 1999 )