Death of a Salesman is a 1949 play by American playwright Arthur Miller and is a classic of American theater. The play ran for 742 performances, directed by Elia Kazan with Lee J. Cobb starring in the leading role.
Death of a Salesman made both Arthur Miller and the character Willy Loman household names. The play raises a counterexample to Aristotle's characterization of tragedy as the downfall of a great man: though Loman certainly has Hamartia, a tragic flaw or error, his downfall is that of an ordinary man (a "low man"). Like Sophocles' Oedipus in Oedipus the King, Loman's flaw comes down to a lack of self-knowledge; unlike Oedipus, Loman's downfall threatens not the city but only a single, bourgeois household. In this sense, Miller's play represents a democratization of the ancient form of tragedy; the play's protagonist is himself obsessed with the question of greatness, and his downfall arises directly from his misconception of himself as someone capable of greatness.