[Marxism] Death of a Salesman

guava tree theguavatree at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 13:27:37 MDT 2012

posting my thoughts on this play, which has recently had a Broadway
revival-- There's more to be said I think about the intersection of
playwrights and the CP & HUAC, but this is mostly centered on the
content of the play:

Perhaps deceived by the uneven high school reading of the play during
my 11th grade American History/English seminar (I remember also
reading The Crucible and A Raisin in the Sun out-loud as well), or
blinded by my recent reading of radical literature over the past
decade I had an ersatz ideal of this play in my head: American Society
and the Dream it promises of capitalist success are a sham; witness
noble “Everyman” Willy Loman be crushed and defeated by a cruel and
heartless system.  Being lucky enough to nab a ticket to one of the
first previews several weeks ago, what struck me is that instead of
this critique of capitalism that perhaps I expected from Miller (who
in 1948 was a member of the Communist Party and pirouetted around
naming names in his 1956 testimony to HUAC),  Death of a Salesman is
more the story about a stubborn, delusional, petty, frustrated,
unlikable, bragging, proud man who has fundamentally misunderstood the
rules of success in America– Although there is a whiff of mid-century
(misunderstood) “communist” influence here and there, it is this
specific character flaw of Loman’s and the damage it inflicts on his
family that shadows the entire drama. This attention to character
makes for riveting theater, but falls short of giving the play the
contemporary “relevance” it supposedly enjoys.




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