The initial title for Miller’s play was ‘The Within His Head’. How does Miller’s use of set, lighting and stage instructions help us to understand this concept?
Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesperson in 1949. This date is the period after the Wall Street Crash and the Great Anxiety and this is significant, as one of Miller’s goals in writing this play was that it would be a tragedy that American workers could connect to. The main themes and concerns in the play are consumerism and exploitation; Miller wanted to write a play that was crucial of industrialism and that would expose the falseness of the American Dream.
The original title reflects one of the underlying themes in the play– the central character’s battle to grasp the difference between impression and truth and the past and the present; frequently Willy Loman’s ideas and views do not comply with those of most of the staying cast.
Miller utilizes symbolism, set, lighting and stage instructions to assist us to understand what is taking place inside Willy’s head.
One of the a number of signs that give us an insight into Willy’s thoughts is the athletic trophy. It is put on a shelf in the sitting space where it can be plainly seen; this demonstrates how crucial it is to the family. This significance then in turn shows that winning and competitors are crucial concepts here and that this part of the American Dream is very important to Willy and he rewards the accomplishments his boy made as they show him as transcending to other individuals, which is what Willy is constantly making every effort to accomplish, particularly in regards to Charly.
In the very same scene is the use of the melody of the flute. It shows Willy’s dad’s success as a business owner (making wooden flutes), something Willy is always making every effort to achieve, and likewise the strong impact this has on his child. Likewise, the real melody that is being played ‘inform(s) of lawn and trees and the horizon’, and reminds us of the plain distinction in between the life Willy lived as a kid (with the daddy who he idolises) and the position he remains in now; in an overcrowded area of New york city, working for someone else (i.e., not working on his own terms, like his father) on commission.
Another of the important symbols in the play is the lighting at the end of Act One. Simply as Willy is talking about how great Biff was when he was more youthful, on another part of the set Biff walks into a gold swimming pool of light, which is reflecting the appreciation Willy is offering him, the gold symbolising the preliminary power and success that he had. Likewise, simply after this the light fades on Willy, representing the fact that his profession, his influence on his children and possibly his life are drawing to a close.
An additional example of Miller’s importance in this play and his control of non-naturalistic components is in Act Two, the dining establishment scene, with different use of both lighting and music. The first of these symbols is using the ‘single trumpet note’ used in combination with ‘the light of green leaves’. This initiates the start of Willy’s mind reflecting to an occasion numerous years ago, the green of the leaves symbolising the time when your house was not surrounded by high increase flats, sound and contamination. Miller likewise says that the light ‘holds the air of a. dream’, which is insinuating that at this moment in time Willy’s dreams for himself and his children had actually not yet been destroyed. This is upheld by the naturalistic state of his living environment.
Throughout the scene the light continues to fluctuate and highlight different locations and times. Another fundamental part in this dining establishment scene I when the music changes considerably to accompany the presence of The Woman in Willy’s mind. The music is now ‘raw and sensuous’ highlighting one major part of Willy’s life, at this point in time, that does not fit into the same mould as the rest of his life; he is a married man, supportive of his children and aiming to accomplish brand-new heights for his household, and now he is doing the extremely opposite of this by unfaithful on his better half, and so the music does not reflect any of the other, frequently light and joyful melodies played on the flute. Up till Biff finds his daddy with The Female, no one else knows her part in Willy’s life, so even at this early phase, Willy will have ideas inside his head which do not connect to those of an of the other central characters.