Journal Article

SONG OF THE UNSUNG ANTIHERO: HOW ARTHUR MILLER'S <i>DEATH OF A SALESMAN</i> FLATTERS US

Jonathan Witt

in Literature and Theology

Volume 12, issue 2, pages 205-216
Published in print June 1998 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online June 1998 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/12.2.205
SONG OF THE UNSUNG ANTIHERO: HOW ARTHUR MILLER'S DEATH OF A SALESMAN FLATTERS US

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The sober treatment of a lowly, unheroic protagonist in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman flatters the audience. The more obvious way that it flatters us is by alienating us from the protagonist in his downfall so that we watch his destruction from a secure vantage point. Less obviously, the form of the play, like other modern tragedies of its kind, romanticizes the protagonist with whom we identify, romanticizes him through what I call the audience's paradox, that tension created when a serious work or literature employs an obscure, lowly character as protagonist and so makes that obscure person the centre of our attention, makes him famous.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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