Using Zora Neal Hurston's "Poker!" and Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." provide a description of each of the following parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion (resolution).
For each play, answer the following:
1. What do you think is the central-most conflict in this play?
2. Pick a character and describe that character's movement. How is the playwright staging him or her?
3. Analyze the cultural and historical context of this play. What is this play's reality? In what ways does this play express its context? What was its significance when it was first performed, and what is its significance now?
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Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" provides solid exposition in the form of not only background information to establish Willy's characterization, family strive/dysfunction, and dire circumstances but also via foreshadowing hints to his former traffic accidents and possible suicide attempts. We can gain a sense of his instability as well as his wife's apprehensions for him at the beginning of the play.
Then the rising action occurs as Willy and Biff have a conflict over Willy's discovered affair and Biff's school troubles. More troubles escalate between them in the garden scene as Biff reveals his plan to leave. Thus, the climax seems to occur when Biff gives his dad a reality check with Pop, I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you! . . . I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you."
From that proclamation, the falling action seems to manifest in the fact that Willy is too distraught to sleep and drives off erratically, crashing, and apparently committing suicide. As coming full circle from the beginning, the conclusion (resolution) of the plays seems to occur as Hap comments on Willy's dream and then Linda remarks on the irony that she made ...
500 words of reader response notes are generated about these two riveting American plays, Zora Neal Hurston's "Poker!" and Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman."