Death of Salesman Essay

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Miller uses the techniques of the modern theatre to the full. As such, the term ‘expressionist’ is often used to describe Miller as a ‘dramatist’. Discuss his use of dramatic devices in ‘Death of a Salesman’ showing how they convey the messages of the play.

Arthur Miller wrote ‘Death of a Salesman’ in 1949. The play is based around the idea of the ‘American Dream’ and how a middle class family of four struggle to come to terms with Willy’s over-powering ambition and hunger for popularity and success. As an ‘expressionist’ Miller uses a range of ‘dramatic devices’ such as lighting, sound, various time switches and symbols to make the play come to life and convey the messages to the audience. Miller’s purpose in writing the play is to expose the true reality of the ‘American Dream’, a notion that everyone should live a middle class life in America, ‘the land of opportunity’.

Miller integrates expressionistic, dramatic devices like lights into the play so they are as important as the actors in conveying his message to the audience. By using lights in an effective way, Miller can make the time switches that often occur more fluent and believable. For instance when time switches happen, ‘more light appears’ and it makes the stage much brighter to represent how happy Willy and his family was at that time. At the first glimpse of the play lighting is also used to suggest the mood and feeling of characters and scenes, such as the ‘blue light of the sky’ falling upon the Lomans house and forestage. This color indicates that the ‘great outdoors’ is surrounding Willy’s house. But the light is then joined by an ‘angry glow of orange’ that suggests Willy’s real feelings. It creates a contrast between something gracious like the outdoors and something deep and dark corresponding and duplicating with Willy’s emotions. In the background of the opening scene sit ‘towering, angular shapes’ to represent the tall buildings of a city....
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