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death of a sales man

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By Daniel Smart 1 Y10LP English Essay How does Miller's portrayal of the past in the dramatic structure of 'Death of a Salesman' enrich the audience's understanding of the character of Willy Loman? In the play, 'Death of a Salesman' the past is as relevant and important as the present. Arthur Miller uses the past to help us understand Willy Loman as a character and why and how he got into his present situation. Also to help us understand his development and personality change through his experiences. This is quite an unusual and interesting concept but not quite so as the way Miller changes from past to present. 'Surrounding become covered with leaves.' He does this by having Willy talk to himself, the lights changing, the scene adapting and a flute playing softly in the background. Some versions of the play may start the scene at one half of the stage and move them to the other side. This shows that we are moving from present to past or past to present, changing era/tense. 'Music insinuates itself.' The flute relates to Willy's father who made flutes, sold them and earned enough from this to look after his family. ...read more.


stress, anger and frustration are only a few emotions concealed in Willy's incredibly complex character, so pity the frailer of the upbringing of Biff who is not successful, and the collapse of his and fathers friendship. So we can understand the disappointment and guilt that it was his fault, Willy could be feeling. Another scene, telling the audience more about the type of person Willy is, can be found in Act One, pages 24-25, in which Willy is recalling an affair he had with someone who is entitled 'The Woman'. Miller does not give The Woman a proper name because she could be anyone. Willy could have had affairs with more women. Also, he doesn't want her to be a character in herself, but more a means of conveying what Willy's weak spot is. 'Me? You didn't make me, Willy, I picked you'. The woman compliments Willy, which may make him feel less of a failure. In addition he might be using her to buy his products. Willy's job may not be the most interesting, and on the longer of his car journeys he may feel solitary but none of these excuses can account for his betrayal of Linda's trust. ...read more.


In the play, directions are used mainly to shows change from present to past. Some examples would be '(Moving to the Forestage)' and '(He takes her in his arms)'. Both these examples mean that the actors don't have to say everything that they do. Everyone has a past. Everyone's past has influenced their character. The past is always important and in the back of your mind, but not quite as By Daniel Smart 4 pressing as what is happening in the present. This is the case for most people but not Willy Loman. Willy constantly goes back in time, reliving conversations and events. We get the impression that Miller's attitude to the past in understanding Willy Loman as a character is crucial. Miller respects the past, defining it as serious and an everyday part of life. Willy always harks back to the past when he still had the chance to be somebody famous well liked and known, the American dream, striving for a better life. Arthur Miller helps us understand why the book was written via his interview in which he said, 'The past is with us all the time, informing and influencing our actions and choices. If we are to understand Willy, we must be aware of the emotional burdens and the formative influences which he carries with him from the past.' ...read more.

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