Critical Notes On Death OF YOUR Salesman English Literature Essay

Miller's style is characterized by both the structure of the play - the playwright's manipulation of energy and space, the setting and the language. The play is structured into some episodes alternating between present time and overdue through Willy's reveries and daydreams. The play becomes an activity, documentation and charting of Willy's mind. Miller achieves this through the use of the stream of consciousness technique. Willy's tired and deteriorated mind relives many of the episodes of days gone by, episodes that have shaped his present. It is these episodes that readers are allowed to see vividly as Willy does in his waking moments. Miller classifies these episodes as '. . . only a mobile concurrence of past and present'. Not only do these episodes function as part of the plot, but they also symbolize the slow and progressive breakdown in the man. Days gone by episodes are from the present episodes which precede them; the dialogue of the past is intricately interwoven in the present. What information they present provides insight into Willy's present state.

The structure of the plot is unified by time, place and characters. The rhythm of present events/actions/episodes is constantly interrupted by a series of flashbacks that occur in Willy's mind as dreams or illusions. There exists, however, some chronological structure to the present, and the flashbacks, it ought to be noted, are used to help expand expound, reflect, touch upon and clarify some event/action in today's. Though sometimes difficult to check out, there is a noticeable distinction between past and present and for that reason between dreams and reality. Willy, however, has difficulty making that distinction which is seen where this failure throws him out of balance.

Miller combined realistic characters and social commentary while also writing modern tragedy. Miller pursued the Ibsenian tradition of social drama and enriched it with some touches of expressionism and symbolism by conveying elements of the storyline through the key character's memories. Death of a Salesman, though realistic, is mostly conveyed expressionistically through Willy Loman's mind and memory. As Willy becomes more and more absorbed by incidents from his past, the action progressively occurs in his mind. The play becomes a collage of memories with rapid, surreal shifts in setting and time. Its expressionistic setting is ideally suitable for the dialogue, which though recognizably colloquial, is eloquent and lyrical.

Expressionism, the skill with which Miller blends nature imagery with the play's realism is what gives Death of any Salesman its special devote the history of modern drama. Imagery from trees is taken one step further in the introduction of a leafy pattern that surrounds the stage. Every time Willy remembers days gone by, the stage directions call for this green cover. It lends to the reverie a dreamy quality. Expressionism aims to present subjective feelings and thoughts in their most compelling form. The artist is not worried about reality as it appears but with its inner nature and with the feelings aroused by the topic. To do this end the topic is generally distorted or altered to be able to stress a felt experience. Miller achieves this result with a clever mixture of an innovative set, music and lighting.

Music plays a vital role in embellishing the play with atmosphere. The play opens with Willy's music (the flute) playing in the backdrop. All memories of early days are accompanied by flute music that relate to Willy's pioneer father, the flute maker. It reflects the happier days and a life that Willy must have had. Different music accompanies various different scenes and range from 'a high, rollicking tune' to 'gay and bright' to 'raw, sensuous music'. The music also rises in intensity with an 'unbearable scream' till it crashes with a 'frenzy' and falls to a 'soft pulsation of an individual cello string' that develops into a 'dead march'.

Light and colour are artistically used to see or enhance the various moods of the play. Once the curtain rises in Act One, 'Only the blue light of the sky falls after the house' and the encompassing area is shown within an 'angry orange. ' The contrast of the two sorts of tones symbolizes the conflict of the average person in society as presented by the play. A dimming of lights heralds Willy's reveries in to the past and the stage is drenched with green leaves. The moonlight that Willy admires through his window at the end of the scene is gone by the end of Act Two when he tries to learn instructions on the seed packets by making use of a flashlight. The light is going out of Willy's life too and despair looms above him as he sees all doors closing in his face.

The play is Miller's representation of the death of the American Dream. The contradictions which are located in Willy are also the contradictions within the American Dream; his failures mark the elusiveness and non-existence of the dream. The play gets the indelible mark of the Depression on it. Though not an evident theme, capitalism is probably the issues presented by Miller. He uses rather basic symbolism and language in the analysis of the concept. He deconstructs the myth of America as the nation of equal opportunity and streets paved with gold where any man can perform success, wealth, happiness, and even fame. The play is representational and Willy Loman, the 'everyman', becomes a basis which readers can judge themselves.

Because of the simplicity of the language, and the portrayal and treatment of the subject matter, the play never delves in to the realm of melodrama. The language:

Echoes the pain and woes of the working class.

Characters speak in a true-to-life way.

Feelings, values and thoughts are reflected in the language

The language is effective in presenting points of emotional intensity, stress, turmoil, disaster, agitation. So that they can make his play not just about another fictional character, Miller merges ordinary and poetic speech with such poignancy and realism that you cannot help but admire his genius. Undoubtedly, the language of Death of your Salesman, is power, intensity and boldness go beyond mere theatrics to present an enthralling portrayal of the hopes, fears, ambitions and failures of the middles class American.

Miller's Techniques

Miller employs the utilization of various ways to present the plot and story, highlight themes and portray characters. These techniques are:

Symbolism

Seeds/Willy's garden; the rubber house; the stockings; Howard's tape recorder.

Motif

Nature versus City/Jungle; Dreams, reveries and recollections.

Devices

Dramatic irony; satire; sarcasm; foreshadowing; allusion; imagery.

Conflict

Ethical/moral; emotional; physical; social.

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