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Assignment | Death of a Salesman Research Essay (Kane): Getting Started

ENGL 1302 | Prof. Kane (Spring 2024)

Assignment Summary

Your assignment is writing an essay on Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. You will research the historical context for the play, either relating to the American Dream or the role of women, or you may analyze the characters in the play and how they relate to Arthur Miller's real life family.

Your Goals:

  • 5 credible sources
  • MLA style & format
  • 1,500 words


Research Essay Instructions

Your assignment is to show how and why Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman is significant to that time period.  Some points to consider may be:

  1. How the author or work presents and reflects the concerns or values of that time period.
  2. How the author or work raises the reader’s awareness of a social or cultural issue.
  3. What attitude the author has towards the subject matter.
  4. What solution, if any, the author or characters give for a problem.

Your essay should summarize the main points of the historical period you are discussing. You should also summarize the main points of the source texts(s) you are analyzing.

Your essay must have at least five credible sources.  The minimum length is 1500 words. It must be in MLA format, and it must use all MLA research guidelines.

Here are the prompts. Choose only one please!

  1. When speaking about Willy, Linda Loman states this: “He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid.” What is this “terrible thing” that is happening to him? How does the pursuit of “The American Dream” affect Willy and his family? What were the economic conditions at the time of this play, and how are these conditions reflected by the actions and the behaviors of the characters, especially Willy?
  1. Some have speculated that the characters from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman were inspired from the people in Arthur Miller’s life. What characters appear to be a part of Arthur Miller’s past? What are the parallels between the characters in Death of a Salesman and the people in Arthur Miller’s life experiences?
  1. Linda Loman proves to be one of the strongest members of the Loman family. Unfortunately, Linda is unable to use many of her talents and positive qualities because of the prevailing attitudes of the 1940’s society. What are these societal attitudes toward women living in the 1940’s, and how do these limitations affect Linda’s life? How is Linda’s potential for economic success limited?

"Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer. Willy Loman is here! That’s all they have to know, and I go right through."   Willy Loman

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Hot Take

Which prompt are you doing?
(1) American dream/economic conditions: 4 votes (1.77%)
(2) Real -life character parallels: 3 votes (1.33%)
(3) Women in the 40s: 219 votes (96.9%)
Total Votes: 226