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Ellipsis - dashes - punctuation - oh my! - An essay on the use of dashes in Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman.

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Ellipsis - dashes - punctuation - oh my! An essay on the use of dashes in Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman The dash is a handy device, informal and essentially playful, telling you that you're about to take off on a different tack but still in some way connected with the present course - only you have to remember that the dash is there, and either put a second dash at the end of the notion to let the reader know that he's back on course, or else end the sentence, as here, with a period. __ Lewis Thomas How does a writer - a good writer - convey epiphanies exactly so that it's grammatically appropriate for - eureka! - a dash is used - placed just so - to convey, establish - a mood, feeling, tone - a character feels - whilst saying a line, monologue - even an exclamation - wherein characters experience a lot of feeling and - dominance is implied when a line is ended by a dash - interruption in short - by another character - allowing the reader to see - feel - the personality - traits, characteristics - of a character subtlety. ...read more.


Thus, when a character is overcome by emotions, a dash is placed in the proper place in the sentence's structure and a feeling of overwhelming portions is conveyed to the reader. In a tragic play such as Death of a Salesman, the proper use of the dash is essential to establish certain key conversations - and the significance of the feelings of the character - and their significance in the overall meaning of the story line. Such a conversation is seen when Willy is affirmed of Biff's love (Page 133) - where there was placed four dashes upon the page - in the span of the conversation - each of which insinuates a great deal of emotion. It is these emotions that help build the tragedy in the story line - characterizing Willy and Biff in the process. When Biff tells his mom - or whoever it is he is speaking to - to put Willy to bed - "Put him-put him to bed." - the dash stresses the exhaustion that Biff feels - his inability to finish his sentence implies a deep caring for his father - an overwhelming emotion. ...read more.


This dash allows the reader to acknowledge that Biff is at a loss of exact words to define what he means and the thoughts running through his head. It is this pause that changes the overall meaning of the sentence - without the pause, the sentence would pass over - unnoticed. The pause - dash - underlines Biff's uncertainty which continues throughout the play - until Biff realizes the absurdity of his situation and awakens. The dash informs the reader that here lies Biff's conflict - this dash is the resolution wherein the conflict is introduced. The dash - is the conflict. As a modern tragedy, Death of a Salesman is - when broken down - an informal play, thus the dash is the perfect punctuation for the certain situations -and sentences - that needed to be highlighted in the subconscious. The dash evokes an awareness that is subtle - sliding beneath our mind's eye - to implant ideas - emotions and feelings - thereby creating importance to an event - or phrase. When a dash is used, it's used to emphasize - and encourage analysis of - a phrase. The involuntary response to a dash should be curiosity - as to the purpose of this dash. A dash is not so easily used and is thus, so rarely seen. ...read more.

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