Dream & Death in Expressionism                                           -Conclusion                                                           By Carol Lin

      Arthur Miller once said in an interview, " The form of Death Of A salesman was an attempt, as much as anything else, to convey the bending of time. There're two or three sorts of time in that play. One is social time; one is psychic time, the way we remember things; and the third one is the sense of time created by the play and shared by the audience." Indeed, anyone who saw or read the play will be at first confused about those complicated switches of present and past, but then amazed that how skillful the "crossing time" is arranged to make a lot of sense to reveal the inner world of the main character. In fact, Miller's secret trick is the use of Expressionism. The wonderful combination of expressionistic devices make the time disordered but intensive; make Willy's inner world exaggerating, fantastic but full of emotional impact.

     The most obvious and extraordinary example is in Characters. Arthur miller allows his characters to split into younger versions of themselves to represent Willy's memories. Besides, The Woman and Ben are also great expressionistic creations. Miller himself acknowledged that he purposely refused to give Ben any character," Because for Willy he has no character which is, psychologically, expressionist because so many memories come back with a simple tag on them: somebody represents a threat to you, or a promise."

     In addition, we can find that actually in music, setting, and lighting, there're still elements of Expressionism. From the stage directions, different characters have their own music, for instance, Willy's music is small and fine, represents the grass, trees, and horizon--these are objects of Willy's longing that are absent from the environment he's in now. Through this music we're given our first sense of Willy's estrangement not only from nature itself but from his own deepest nature. The flute is related to Willy's father, who made them and even sold them during the family's early wanderings. The father's theme, a high, rollicking tune, is different from the small and fine melody of the natural, for the father is a salesman as well as an explorer: he is the one that builds the conflicting values that are destroying Willy's life.

     As to the setting part, in order to let the audience see the inside of Willy's head, which is a mass of contradictions, Miller designed a transparent setting. The transparent lines of Loman house allow the audience physically to sense the city pressure that are surrounding and destroying Willy. About lighting, At the end of act I , Biff comes downstage into a golden pool of light as Willy recalls the day when Biff is going to the city baseball championship. The pool of light establishes and suggests how Willy has exaggerated the past, given it a mythological-story atmosphere.

     Through these various expressionistic devices, we get to know Willy Loman's world where social and personal values encounter and struggle for integration; the full flow of inner and outer forces that are sucking him. He may be a tragic hero, who has great dream (as we acknowledged, the American dream) but fails because of the limitation in self-realization, characteristics or improper education. (tragic flaws) However, we can also view this tragedy as a result or sacrifice of the competing and realistic capitalized society. A death of a salesman; a death of pure, idealistic American dream.

Information used:
1. An Interview with Arthur Miller, Matthew C. Roudane [1985]
2. The Expressionistic Devices in Death of a Salesman, Barbara Lounsberry

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