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Why does Arthur Miller use time lapses? What is he trying to say about Willy Loman?

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Why does Arthur Miller use time lapses? What is he trying to say about Willy Loman? Arthur Miller wrote "Death of a Salesman" in 1949. For this essay I am planning to explore the structural devices used in the play. Particularly time lapses. The play is set in Willy's house and the various places he visits in New York. "Death of a Salesman" has been described as a modern tragedy and it certainly follows the rules. Willy Loman, the protagonist, is the tragic hero with a fatal flaw; his defect is his supreme pretence and pride. He lives in two different worlds. In the real world he has fallen from grace, another rule vital to tragedies, but in the imaginary world in Willy's head. The place that clings onto every happy memory just won't let him drop. During the 1930's America was suffering from the great depression. There was little food and economy was down the drain. When America finally came out of this recession it had completely changed, large industrialized buildings had sprung up everywhere; it was all about big businesses and commercialism. ...read more.


Willy conjures up these fantasy worlds to escape from reality but also to reassure himself that he is doing the right thing. But his conscience comes in from time to time, to try and bring him back down to earth and usually comes in the voice of Ben. The recollections in the play usually pivot around certain objects or phrases. These objects or phrases are skilful uses of symbolism. The symbols that Arthur Miller uses are often keys that unlock Willy's memory and almost always are milestones on the road to his instability. One particular use of symbolism is Linda's stockings. These evoke anger in him, which is not necessarily at himself but clearly unsettles him. It reminds him of the practically worthless affair and Linda's faithful and undying love for Willy. Another is the tape recorder in Howard's office; this characterizes the growing technology in America in this poignant time of their history. The seeds Willy is seen to be feverishly planting toward the end of the play signifies the constant reminder that Willy can hardly grow anything in his overlooked and shadowy garden. ...read more.


"You are not a great man Willy and neither am I". As I mentioned earlier, these recollections are used for Willy's emotional and mental struggle, but not for just what the character is being perceived as, but also to give a great dramatic effect. It is perfect for performing on the stage and it is a powerful theatrical impression. This is somewhat lost when the play was made into film, you don't have all the memories right there in front of you, in the theatre you get to experience the whole of Willy's mind on one stage and it's amazing. Which is why possibly, Arthur Miller had the previous title of "The Inside of His Head" in mind. Another good use of theatrical effects is the closing scene, the requiem. This is a powerful scene as it is a final strong reminder of Willy's weak character. And how his constant lies and bad upheaval of deception has come to his bitter, wretched end. Which is why I think Arthur Miller chose to write the play this way. To let people leave with this fresh in their mind. To show how one tragic hero is really a pathetic liar when more closely inspected. Kirsty Day 10I ...read more.

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