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Sample Essay: “Death of a Salesman” Play Analysis

Below is a sample outline and a well-developed play literary analysis essay in MLA on “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. This example is meant to help students in organizing their thoughts and ideas for their essays.

“Death of a Salesman” Play Analysis Essay

Essay Outline

  1. Introduction
    • Brief overview of “Death of a Salesman” and its significance in American drama.
    • Thesis statement: Arthur Miller’s play delves into the themes of the American Dream, disillusionment, and the tragic downfall of a common man, Willy Loman, through its powerful characterizations, symbolism, and dramatic structure..
  2. Characters
    • Willy Loman: Character traits and development. Evidenced: His dreams, struggles, and relationships with other characters.
    • Linda Loman: Character traits and role in the play. Evidence: Her support for Willy and her emotional journey.
    • Biff Loman: Character traits and development. Evidence: His relationship with Willy, his aspirations, and his realization.
    • Happy Loman: Character traits and role in the family dynamic. Evidence: His pursuit of success and his relationship with Willy.
  3. Dramatic Structure
    • Examination of the play’s structure. Evidence: Flashbacks, interwoven past and present.
    • Analysis of how the structure contributes to the storytelling. Evidence: How it mirrors Willy’s fragmented state of mind.
  4. Symbolism
    • Discussion of key symbols in the play. Evidence: The American Dream, the Loman house, Willy’s car.
    • Analysis of how these symbols enhance the thematic depth. Evidence: Their connection to characters’ desires and failures.
  5. Themes
    • Exploration of central themes. Evidence: The American Dream, identity, betrayal, and the nature of success.
    • Analysis of how these themes are woven into the narrative. Evidence: How the characters’ struggles exemplify these themes.
  6. Social Commentary
    • Examination of the play’s commentary on American society. Evidence: Capitalism, consumerism, and the pursuit of success.
    • Analysis of how the play reflects the era in which it was written. Evidence: The post-World War II period and the challenges faced by the common man.
  7. Conclusion
    • Restate thesis and summarize main points.
    • Discuss the enduring relevance of “Death of a Salesman” in today’s society.
    • Offer final thoughts on the play’s lasting impact in the world of theater and literature.

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