How did Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman reflect the ideology of the time in which the play was composed?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Great question. Arthur Miller was born October 15, 1915. The play was produced in 1949. This context is central in understanding the power and meaning of the play. Post-war America had a new version of the American Dream, which suggested that America was entering a time of prosperity through materialism. And it was this materialism that would bring happiness.

The play, however, looks at the dark side of the American Dream. Miller pokes holes into the American Dream and tries to show the emptiness of it. A capitalistic material culture is a distortion of the true American Dream. 

On the one hand Miller is challenging the dominant ideology of the time, but he is also part of another movement or growing ideology. There were thinkers, artists, and other intellectuals who viewed this ideology of materialism (or the new American Dream) as propaganda that stultified the individual. Also they saw the rise of communism and the dangers this possessed. So, if we look at what Miller did, he was very much a part of a group of intellectuals who were challenging the system.


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