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I haven't read this book before, but a few of my friends have recommended it. could...

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heatherlee | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 3, 2008 at 4:34 AM via web

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I haven't read this book before, but a few of my friends have recommended it. could someone maybe tell me how you felt about the book?

i havent read this book before, but a few of my friends have recommended it. could someone maybe tell me how you felt about the book?

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted September 3, 2008 at 1:34 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a must read play.  Actually, it's more of a must see.  Miller creates a fascinating scenario where a man's dreams, when aimed in an unworthy direction, color his entire life ... I am being careful not to tell you too much ... hopefully enough to get you to read the book or see the play.

There are several CD's available ... I would suggest that you see the edition where Lee J. Cobb plays Willie Lowman with Mildred Dunnock as his wife Linda.  There is another interesting performance with Dustin Hoffman as Willie, with Kate Read and John Malcovich.  Many people seem to find this performance disappointing, but I have always found it to be another interesting interpretation of the character.

If you do decide to read the play first, please follow it up with either of these two videos; you will not be disappointed.

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katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted September 3, 2008 at 4:44 PM (Answer #3)

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I think it completely depends on *how* you read the play and who you are. If you have a good teacher (or are an analytic reader) and can pick out the major themes and the poignancy of the struggles of the different characters, then I do think it can be a rewarding read. I'm of the thought that it's much better to see or hear plays, though. I have a colleague who can't get enough of this play.

However, I know a lot of people who did not like this play, especially younger students who couldn't relate to the characters, especially Willy's central struggle. No matter how much I tried to put it into language or scenarios they understood or could relate to, they didn't like it. The play is a bit dated and there are flashback which meld with current time, which can be confusing for some people. Some of my students were very happy to get to the end.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 3, 2008 at 5:20 PM (Answer #4)

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I think whether you like the play or not depends upon the time that you either read or see it. When I have taught the play to high school students and economic times were good, many students were turned off by Willy, the main character, and his treatment of his son.They have a hard time understanding his motivation. However, in a climate of economic hardship like today when many people are struggling to keep up with rising prices and many others are losing their homes and jobs, "Death of a Salesman" is once again "contemporary". Even though it was written many years ago, the themes and characters that the playwright created still seem real. That's what makes great literature--the ability of a work to stand the test of time.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 3, 2008 at 7:08 PM (Answer #5)

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I normally do not teach this play because it has always sounded dated to me, but that is only my opinion.  I find it difficult to relate to any of the characters and I tend to have no sympathy for Willy, who, to me, is weak and delusional.  Simply because I do not care for this play does not make it a wonderfully rich drama worth studying.  It is a classic play for many reasons and will continue to be a play that will be studied long after all of us are gone.  I did teach this play when I taught high school over 13 years ago and students found it difficult to relate to its characters, as well.

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benjammin412 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted September 15, 2008 at 7:12 PM (Answer #6)

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I personally think that the beauty of this story comes from taking such an ordinary man with such an ordinary life into a heart-gripping tale of how every-day life can be both tragic and extraordinary. When I read it, and actually even when I watched the great performance by Dustin Hoffman in the film version, I was overwhelmed with sympathy because Willy is just the kind of man that you could live right next door to, and yet he can evoke emotion that few characters have done on a literary basis.

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livetotap | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2008 at 6:23 PM (Answer #7)

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I normally do not teach this play because it has always sounded dated to me, but that is only my opinion.  I find it difficult to relate to any of the characters and I tend to have no sympathy for Willy, who, to me, is weak and delusional.  Simply because I do not care for this play does not make it a wonderfully rich drama worth studying.  It is a classic play for many reasons and will continue to be a play that will be studied long after all of us are gone.  I did teach this play when I taught high school over 13 years ago and students found it difficult to relate to its characters, as well.


I myself thought it was a wonderful play. I am very analytical
when doing my readings of any type. When I started to watch the movie it was slow going. Before long I thought it was very interesting. I could relate to all the characters, especially Willy. The times of the fifties are not much different from the world today. Willy's character is struggling because he is a Father and a Husband. From the beginning of man kind men have always, in part, have been the bread winner's of their families. Yes, time has changed because of the economic struggle's, therefore, most women have to work. I can relate to his struggles and how he wants the best for his family. He felt defeated by his ego.
You should try to watch it again. I watched the movie with Dustin Hoffman. He did and excellent job.

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