These Death of a Salesman quotes show why the play by Arthur Miller was so important when it was written in 1949 and why it is still relevant today.
Death of a Salesman is a stage play about a traveling salesman who realizes that his entire life has been a failure. It is a play about life, disappointment, and the death of the American Dream.
Arthur Miller was born in 1915 and grew up during the Great Depression. His experience during that era, as well as during World War II, heavily influenced his writing.
Miller wrote plays about the struggles of ordinary people, depicting themes of morality, responsibility, compassion, and human relationships.
Willy, the main character in Death of a Salesman, is a metaphor for every man and their struggle to live the American Dream.
Don’t forget to also check out these American dream quotes to motivate you.
Famous Death of a Salesman quotes and lines about life
1. “And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. ’Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?” — Arthur Miller
2. “I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and the time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and I thought, what the hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be . . . when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am.” — Arthur Miller
3. “A diamond is hard and rough to the touch.” — Arthur Miller
4. “Nothing’s planted. I don’t have a thing in the ground.” — Arthur Miller
5. “I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have – to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him.” — Arthur Miller
6. “Sometimes…it’s better for a man just to walk away. But if you can’t walk away? I guess that’s when it’s tough.” — Arthur Miller
7. “Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you” — Arthur Miller
8. “Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You’ll never get out of the jungle that way.” — Arthur Miller
9. “I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.” — Arthur Miller
10. “You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit!” — Arthur Miller
DOAS quotes about happiness and disappointment
11. “I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash can like the rest of them! I’m one-dollar an hour, Willy! I tried seven states and couldn’t raise it. A buck an hour! Do you gather my meaning? I’m not bringing home any prizes anymore and you’re going to stop waiting for me to bring them home!” — Arthur Miller
12. “I’ve always made a point of not wasting my life, and every time I come back here I know that all I’ve done is to waste my life.” — Arthur Miller
13. “I don’t know what the hell I’m workin’ for. Sometimes I sit in my apartment—all alone. And I think of the rent I’m paying. And it’s crazy. But then, it’s what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, plenty of women, and still, goddamnit, I’m lonely.” — Arthur Miller
14. “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been.” — Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman quotes about dreams
15. “Why must everybody conquer the world? You’re well-liked and the boys love you and someday—why, old man Wagner told him just the other day that if he keeps it up he’ll be a member of the firm, didn’t he, Willy?” — Arthur Miller
16. “He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine . . . A salesman is got to dream, boy.” — Arthur Miller
17. “Be loving to him. Because he’s only a little boat looking for a harbor.” — Arthur Miller
Death of a Salesman quotes about success
18. “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.” — Arthur Miller
19. “The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy.” — Arthur Miller
20. “Willy, when’re you gonna realize that them things don’t mean anything. You named him Howard, but you can’t sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.” — Arthur Miller
21. “There’s more people! That’s what’s ruining this country! The competition is maddening! Smell the stink from that apartment house! And the one on the other side…” — Arthur Miller
22. “After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.” — Arthur Miller
23. “He’s liked, but he’s not well-liked.” — Arthur Miller
24. “A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.” — Arthur Miller
25. “They don’t need me in New York. I’m the New England man. I’m vital in New England.” — Arthur Miller
Is the American Dream still achievable?
The American Dream is the statement that everyone can attain success if they are willing to work hard enough for it. But is it actually achievable?
Miller explored this question when he wrote Death of a Salesman more than 70 years ago. Throughout his life, Miller had seen people who had desperately fought to accomplish the American Dream, and despite their efforts, never reached success.
Many people believe the American Dream is dying. However, I believe it is all about perspective. Every day ordinary people are achieving extraordinary things. As long as people continue to strive for progress, the American Dream will remain alive.
We hope you enjoyed these Death of a Salesman quotes and lines. Let us know your favorite quote in the comment below!
April 27, 2021 7:00 AM EST