Rating: 2/5 stars.
When I finished reading this book in my AP Literature class, I literally cheered, clapped, and high-fived my friends sitting next to me. The cycle of complete despair had been broken! My soul could now sing a song of optimism and joy!
Before I read this book, I still had a sliver of doubt in my mind. The doubt that I should include a myriad more classics to my reading list, that my brain would rot and rupture under the strain of contemporary fiction.
No. Just, no. The reason I’m giving Death of a Salesman two stars is that there is some meaning behind it, if you look deeply enough. It also is not absolute trash. And yet, there are a lot of books that I’ve read that are not even considered close to high literature that surpass this one in their quality.
It’s not like I hate literature (which in itself is a subjective term.) I loved Jane Eyre. To Kill a Mockingbird. Wuthering Heights. But this book made me want to slap someone – especially Willy Loman – and storm off in a dramatic fit of frustration. Every time my teacher praised a certain phrase or bit of writing, I would mentally shake my head. Not because I don’t respect my teacher, but because I could not fathom why he thought the writing in this book was extraordinary at all. Maybe I’m simply unaccustomed to the play format, but I was not impressed.
Both the story and the characters were horrendous. I understood, almost appreciated, and in the end abhorred the plot and its unsatisfying portrayal of a tragic hero/failed American dream. None of the characters earned any empathy. Willy was pathetic – not in a mean way – Biff and Happy were hopeless, and Linda was way too blind and bland. I hated how Linda put up with Willy’s abuse and even enjoyed it to an extent. That’s how it is in some abusive relationships, but how Arthur Miller made it look in this play upset me.
Overall, not recommended. Glad I can finally move on to something else.