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\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Death of a Salesman:
Historical Context

Arthur Miller initially had the concept for "Death of a Salesman" when Miller was 17 years old and working at his father's company. The original story was about an aging salesman who has no luck with his sales and is ridiculed by his potential customers. In the postscript for the manuscript, Miller noted that the person on which the story was based ended up killing himself by throwing himself in front of a subway train. However, it should also be noted that the inspiration for the play came from many sources, including an encounter with Miller's uncle in 1947 on whom Willy Loman is also based. Through his uncle, Miller met many other salesmen and they also had an influence on the caricatures of salesman apparent in the play. Miller described some of them as having a lot of personal dignity, being ultra-competitive, able to withstand inevitable putdowns, and "forever imagining triumphs in a world that either ignores them or denies their presence altogether."

Miller did not write "Death of a Salesman" immediately after his encounter with his uncle, since he was very involved with the production of his "All My Sons," which had just premiered in theaters. He waited about a year later, in April 1948, until the play began to formally come together, a combination of a portrayal of his own uncle and his original short story concept.

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Act One - Part 1
Act One - Part 2
Act One - Part 3
Act One - Part 4
Act Two - Part 1
Act Two - Part 2
Act Two - Part 3
Act Two - Part 4
Act Two - Part 5
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