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This is a great question. Certainly one of the key experiences that shaped Arthur Miller's work was his first-hand experience of the Great Depression, which could be argued to represent the catastrophic failure of capitalism. Arthur Miller's own father had a clothing business which experienced tremendous financial problems at this time and Arthur Miller himself worked as a travelling salesman. In addition, he had an interesting in learning how to build, and when Willy buys wood and builds a porch, this is an experience taken directly from Miller's life. Interestingly, Miller also worked when he was a schoolboy in a car parts warehouse for a pitiful sum.
It is clear that Miller's experiences, both personally and the experiences of his family, therefore have much in common with the action of this amazing play. Miller himself admitted that he had a brief flirtation with the ideas of Communism and Marxism, and while he declares that this play is not an attempt to destroy the social system of America, we can see that he is trying to expose some of the falsity surrounding American Capitalism and the American Dream.
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