Teaching Guides

After the Fall untitled

  • Check out this beginners’ guide to the play composed by Jere Pfister for the Alley Theater’s 2005 production (reproduced with permission).  It includes a biography of Miller, brief synopsis, production history, influences on the play with several useful links, short commentaries on theme, character, as well as timelines and student activities, suggestions of comparative works and an annotated bibliography.

All My Sons

  • GCSE study guide material from the UK, with an introduction to the play, background to the action, discussion of Joe Keller as a representative type, outline of events before the play, and notes on the structure, characters, good quotes to consider, Chris’s relationship with his father, and a guide to writing about the play.

crucibleabigailcartoonThe Crucible

  • Interesting teacher’s resource guide to the play created by West Yorkshire Playhouse, that emphasizes the drama’s production values, with directing and design activities, as well as information on characters and historical contexts.
  • Top Ten Notes about The Crucible by MojoNotes.  Fairly basic 8 minute introduction to the play (with scenes from the 1996 movie, and interview material with Miller).  But no idea where they got the idea that the play was originally titled The Chronicles of Sarah Good!
  • The Crucible as analyzed by “Thug Notes”!! A fun, brief, introduction to the play…
  • Check out this useful guide to the play composed by Jere Pfister for the Alley Theater’s 2005 production (reproduced with permission).  It includes a biography of Miller, brief synopsis, a character list, playwright’s perspective, varied historical perspectives, brief discussions of theme, setting, symbolism, as well as discussion topics and suggested activities, and annotated lists of useful websites and books.
  • This research guide offers a compilation of links to venues that give biographical material on Miller, as well as ones focused on the following topics for possible consideration when teaching the play: 1.) Compare and contrast the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism.  2.) Understand the living conditions in Massachusetts in the 1700s 3.) Examine the dynamics of Puritanism in 1962 4.) Gather historical perspectives on the American Colonial period.
  • Never a substitute for actually reading the play, but such guides as Sparknotes or Cliff Notes can help to jog memory after the text has been read first hand, and introduce some of the more obvious discussion topics/ideas.
  • NEH website has some background and teaching notes for The Crucible.
  • Help Teaching offers a bunch of multiple choice style questions on the play from which you can select to build your own quiz through the website (selections for 10th or 11th grade). Some typos and some of the questions are a little too obvious, but you get to choose which you want.  If you go here, and create your (free) membership, you can also print out worksheets on the play.

Death of a Salesmansalesmancartoon

  • Resource Guide created by West Yorkshire Playhouse that offers, synopsis, character descriptions, interviews with cast and crew of their production of the play, and some suggested drama activities to draw out character and meaning.
  • Click on this link to a PowerPoint slideshow that offers a history of Death of a Salesman stage (and film) productions. Beginning with Lee J. Cobb in 1949 and going through major productions to the RSC one with Antony Sher in 2015. The first half concentrates on the various renditions of Willy Loman, then the second looks more closely at different stagings. There is also a script– Salesmanslideshow–that accompanies the slideshow. Arrows are included to show you where you can click to the next slide.
  • Here is a script (staging-salesman-1949_2009) and an accompanying powerpoint slideshow (salesman1949_2009pics) that describe two distinct productions of Death of a Salesman: the original one from 1949 directed by Elia Kazan, against an all-black version at Yale Rep in 2009, directed by James Bundy.
  • Useful guide to the play from Nanjing School with some good links, and pdfs of materials to download and use in class, such as a comprehensive series of questions for students to address as they read the play a section at a time.
  • Death of a Salesman as analyzed by “Thug Notes”!! A fun, brief, introduction to the play…
  • Looking for something more complex–upcoming scholar Mutee Abdul Salaam al-Sarory from Yemen offers his MA Dissertation (as a downloadable .pdf DeathofaSalesmanMAThesis2004), Death of a Salesman: A Study of its Attitudinal Structure  for consideration.  The study shows how the play’s structural elements interact to reveal its themes and he makes some interesting connections and observations along the way.
  • Here is a write-in study guide for the play aimed at 12th grade students written for us by High School teacher Karen Morrisette.  Print it out and use it in class–have your students fill in their responses.  If you need access to Miller’s short story “In Memoriam” it was printed in New Yorker 25 December 1995 and 1 January 1996, pages 56-57.  Pictures of the original set of Death of a Salesman can be found in several sources, including Brenda Murphy’s Miller: Death of a Salesman (1995) [this has an early sketch, a painting by Mielziner and a still of the set], Miller’s autobiography Timebends: A Life (1987) [just the still] or Enoch Brater’s Arthur Miller: A Playwright’s Life and Work (2005) [just the sketch].  If you want to ask Karen questions about the guide send e-mail.
  • A good way to get things running is to do a quick survey with the class on how they reacted to the play–sample survey.
  • This brief essay may help students approach the play from a new angle to interesting results.  This idea is based on a presentation Carlos Campo gave as part of a teaching panel on Miller at ALA, to guide students into recognizing some of the play’s symbolism regarding nature.
  • A good way of getting your students to become really familar with the play is to get them to write a ten/fifteen minute version, either by piecing together what they feel are the key lines in the play, or by following the plot but using their own idiom.  This works best done in smaller groups, where each could produce their version of the whole play, or the text could be divided into sections.  Students enjoy reading these “refined scripts” out, and the effectiveness of what they produce is a telling indication of how well they know the play.
  • Other good student activities are to have them create a prequel or a sequel to the play, or write a journal from the point of view of any one of the main characters.
  • Group work, followed by a class discussion on the play’s characters is often rewarding–see worksheet.
  • Kind of like a pared down Coles Notes, with the added possibility of feedback, these pages from the Homework Online group are definitely geared to new students of the play.  They give a summary and explanation of the play, brief analyses of the main characters, discussions of themes, motifs, and structure, with a few key quotes and a very short page on Miller.  They also provide a forum for readers to post questions and answers on the play (though this is none too user friendly). There is also a store to buy copies of the play, videos, notes etc.

A View from the Bridgeviewcartoon

  • Interview in The Guardian with Belgian Director Ivo van Hove on directing the 2014 Young Vic version of A View from the Bridge.
  • Here is a research guide that offers a compilation of links to venues that give biographical material on Miller, as well as ones focused on the following topics for possible consideration when teaching the play:   1.) Compare and contrast the life described in Italy and the promise of the American Dream.  2.) Understand the context of mass immigration of Italians to New York in the 1950s.  3.) Examine the impact of McCarthyism in shaping Miller’s presentation of betrayal.  4.) Gather historical perspectives of the pot-war period in America.
  • Check out these pages at shmoop.com. Some interesting new commentary on the play–written in a catchy style that will appeal to reluctant students. They have good introductory notes on themes, characters, setting, symbol, quotes etc.; all related without any technical jargon and with an eye to drawing in those non-english majors–also some good study question suggestions and links to other resources–worth a peek.