Analysis of “Death of a Salesman” opening stage directions

Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ (1949) opens with an intensive description of the Loman house. Miller uses extremely precise and detailed stage directions, together with prop placement, sound and lighting, giving heavy significance to each of those parts and portray an unchangeable picture to guarantee that it’s preserved in each interpretation of his work.

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Throughout the opening stage directions of Act 1, despite the construction and tone being very factual, composed of quick, clear sentences, Miller hints at underlying themes and messages via a variety of stylistic units, getting ready the viewers for the play, and setting the scene.

As the play is about in Brooklyn, New York some years after the good melancholy, many references are made already at this early stage to idealism and the American dream; the desperate and craving imaginative and prescient of many Americans at that time of a greater life.

This permeating theme turns into obvious previously even to the introduction of the characters, as the mere surroundings and props act as symbolic parts, which replicate this motif.

Miller nonetheless subliminally makes it evident that this dream is purely an phantasm, by way of emblematic phrases in his stage directions similar to ‘rising out of reality’ and bodily representations, for instance the broken boundaries the place ‘characters enter or depart a room by stepping through a wall onto the forestage’ which create an aura of delusion.

The first stage directions embrace a melody performed on a flute, ‘telling of grass and trees and the horizon’. This pure imagery encompassing three physical elements accompanied by the gentle and harmonious sound, sets a serene tone which is then highly juxtaposed with the following depiction of the house and it’s neighborhood, featured with darkness and hostility.

This heavy distinction may be symbolic of the conflict between the goals to which the person aspires and the precise harshness of society’s reality. The description of the encircling cluster of house blocks seems almost to have a higher prominence than the home itself, as this is the first thing the audience ‘becomes aware of’. The tall and ‘angular’ silhouette of Manhattan that lies within the backdrop has expressionistic features and surrounds the Loman house in a way that implies some metaphorical form of oppression or confinement.

The ‘glow of orange’ that falls upon the ‘fragile-seeming’ house is personified as ‘angry’, perhaps reflecting the hostile occasions during which the play is about. This enclosing and intimidating hostility is in part what makes the house appear so fragile, a fragility that will represent weakness in family bonds or equally, weakness in he who represents the home, condemning him immediately to the role of a tragic protagonist. Willy clings to his dreams just as ‘an air of the dream clings to the place’.

This idea becomes present again within the description of Linda’s feelings in the path of her husband and his traits. ‘his huge dreams’ are the supply of his tragic nature, desires that he shares with the remainder of society, but that for him become an unhealthy obsession. Willy is cursed with the incessant desire to pursue his dreams ‘to their end’ and these words forebode a destiny that unfolds because of this fixation.

Overall the opening of this play supplies the audience with a sense of the themes that can permeate all through, by cleverly using stage schemes and components that insinuate profounder significance of what is to come.

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