death-of-a-salesman As your year 12 exam is focused entirely on the tragic genre, it is important to develop a wider sense of what is meant by tragedy in Literature. Although there is no requirement to reference other texts outside those you have specifically studied, reading independently around those texts can only enhance your understanding of them.

In reference to modern American tragedy and your study of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, your best starting point is the work of Arthur Miller. He is one of the great American dramatists of the 20th Century who also wrote extensively about the meaning of tragedy in a Modern American context. Probably his three most well known tragedies are: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, ‘The Crucible’ and ‘A View from the Bridge’. Read these (or at least one of them) as a comparison to ‘Death of a Salesman’  and consider what elements are essential to tragedy across time and which features seems to be uniquely inspired by issues arising from life in 20th Century America.

Follow this by reading Miller’s own thoughts on the tragedy of the common man   Tragedy and the Common Man   If you read ‘A View from the Bridge’ (and even if you don’t!), there is some excellent interview footage of the man himself available on Youtube A View from the Bridge. If you read ‘Death of a Salesman’ (which you will go on to study specifically in year 13) then the following interview can give you insight into Miller’s tragic thinking Death of a Salesman