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"Death of a Salesman" written by Arthur Miller in 1948 attempts to give the audience an unusual glimpse into the mind of a Willy Loman

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English Essay "Death of a Salesman" written by Arthur Miller in 1948 attempts to give the audience an unusual glimpse into the mind of a Willy Loman, a mercurial 60-year-old salesman, who through his endeavour to be "worth something", finds himself struggling to endure the competitive capitalist world in which he is engulfed. Arthur Miller uses various theatrical techniques to gradually strip the protagonist down one layer at a time, each layer revealing another truth about his distorted past. By doing this, Miller succeeds in finally exposing a reasonable justification for Willy's current state of mind. These techniques are essential to the play, as it is only through this development that Willy can realistically be driven to motives of suicide. The very first section of the first scene, already defines the basis of Willy's character for the rest of the play. The stage directions on page 8 identify him as being an exhausted aging man, whose work seems to be wearing him down. "...lets his burden down..." (pg. 8). Although this makes Willy appear uninteresting, he soon contrasts this characteristic when he shows an optimistic determination towards his own failures. "I'll start out in the morning. Maybe I'll feel better in the morning." (pg. 9) Another aspect of Willy that makes him more interesting to the audience is his already visible complexity of layers: "I have such thoughts, I have such strange thoughts." (pg. 9) This of course leads the audience on to wondering what exactly is taking place in a man's head to make him say such a thing, evoking a mild fascination in Willy's character. Another character that is developed almost immediately within the first two pages of the play is Linda. ...read more.


This leads the audience to think that Willy been a victimized by his own disillusions. Although lighting itself does not play a large role in conveying the inner minds of the characters, when combined with other techniques such as and already established characters, the use of unusual lighting can create a striking effect. On the very last page of Act 1 (pg. 54) there are two excellent examples of how Miller uses light to influence the audience's perception of the characters. The first "He [Biff] comes downstage into a golden pool of light." This mirrors the mental image Willy has of Biff, in which he idolizes him and sees through his faults. In showing this mental image in such a visual way, sums up Willy's feelings toward Biff in the first act, enabling them to be contrasted to Act 2. The second application of light for the end of the act is "The light on Willy is fading. The gas heater begins to glow through the kitchen wall." The glowing heater symbolizes Willy's current instability as if he is on the verge. The fact that the two lighting changes happen simultaneously however, gives the audience a premonition of his gradual decent to suicide in the next act. This in a way marks the turning point of the play; after presenting the audience with Willy's dreams and aspirations in Act 1, the second act portrays them falling apart. Although, like lighting, music and sound is used to add to an already existing character or feeling, music is also used for a much more important reason; it acts as the transition between Willy's experiences in the past and the present. ...read more.


In "Death of a Salesman" Willy actually relives significant moments of his life in a way more real to him sometimes, than reality itself. Interesting is Miller's choice to show a selection of the imaginary character as real people on stage. "The Woman" and Ben are the only two additional characters that are shown on stage in person, whereas Frank is not shown in person. This sheds light on the significance of the role which Ben and "The Woman" still play in Willy's mind, and also what an impact they had on him in the past. This technique of showing parts of the past intertwined with the present is the most effective method Miller uses to allow the audience to see into Willy. It is only through these revivals of the past, which the audience can understand Willy's thoughts of the present. Arthur Miller attempts to create "realist theatre" using new, non-classical techniques. Throughout the play the audience is confronted with a series of aspects that lead them to believe in the on-stage drama. An example of this is the way in which the characters are represented. They speak in an English that is realistic to its location and time period without using artificial "memorable speech". This conveyance of realism to the audience is vital for Willy's motives to seem plausible, and for Willy to be believed in as a character. On the other hand however, "Death of a Salesman" offers the audience another aspect of the play in which the inner mind of a character is symbolically represented in an expressionistic way on stage. Arthur Miller however succeeds in combining theses seemingly contradictory techniques, by conveying a sense of realism in the way the protagonist's mind is portrayed, creates what sets it aside from anything alike it. ?? ?? ?? ?? 02/05/2007 1 of 6 DOASM - Dramatic Techniques.doc ...read more.

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