Expressionism and Realism in Death of a Salesman
Death of a salesman is a play written by Arthur Miller in the year 1949. The entire plot it told from the perspective of the protagonist Willy Loman. As the last name alludes, Willy has never accomplished anything in his life and now is at the very end of it where he still hopes of making it big in the world. He is 63 years old and has the mind of a child.
Willy literally lives in the glory days of the past where his mind tends to switch back and forth, from the present to the past. From his name we learn how the reader is hanging on a cliff to see Willy “will he do it”. And His last name gives the feeling of him being a "low man," someone low on the social ladder and unlikely to succeed.
He alternates between different perceptions of his life. Willy seems childlike and relies on others for support, even though he pretends to refuse the help given by his brother Ben when he’s asked to go to Africa. But in the end he fails to accomplish anything at all.
Expressionism is defined as a style of play in which the playwright seeks to express emotional experience through their work. Miller uses many motifs to show this, such as in the very beginning where the flute is played but even though Willy hears it he’s really not aware of it. This imparts to the reader a major characteristic of Willy. It is of the absent minded life that he leads.
The flute is one of the many musical motifs in the play such as an indirect reference to Willy’s father. Also music is linked to many tragic elements and events which are present. Biff whistling in the elevator leads him to lose his job. In the past Willy has an affair with another women, when Biff finds this out their relationship sours. The appearance of the women who Willy has been having an affair with is introduced with sensual music. Willy’s wife Linda also has the habit of constantly humming; this appears as tragic because in order to escape the tensions of her...
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