Study Guide

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

Sample Analytical Paper Topics
The following paper topics are based on the entire play. Following each topic is a thesis and sample outline. Use these as a starting point for your paper.

Topic #1
Death of a Salesman encompasses two different moments in time, approximately 17 years apart. The scenes of the earlier period occur as flashbacks and may even be considered Willy’s memories or hallucinations. Discuss the way those scenes reveal important information that allows us to understand characters’ motivations.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Arthur Miller uses the flashback scenes of the past to reveal the psychological motivations of the characters’ actions in the present.

II. First Flashback(s): Biff and Happy as teenagers, and Willy, Linda, and The Woman
A. Why Willy’s curtailed trip to New England has caused him to remember this flashback
B. Biff and Hap’s conversation as adults compared with Biff and Hap as teenagers
C. Willy’s enthusiasm and desire to be well liked and his present disappointment in Biff
D. Willy’s affair with “The Woman” and its effect on his feelings for Linda

III. Second Flashback(s): Willy and Ben
A. Willy’s different reactions to Charley’s job offers and Ben’s job offer
B. Willy and Ben’s similar but different philosophies of competition, success, and the “jungle” of life
C. Willy’s attempts to impress Ben and win his approval, including approval to commit suicide

IV. Third Flashback(s): Willy, “The Woman,” and Biff in Boston
A. Explanations for why the restaurant meeting triggers Willy’s memory of Biff’s visit to Boston
B. The source of Biff’s opinion of...

(The entire section is 727 words.)