In the play ‘Death of a Salesman’ Miller immediately establishes the subsequent tragedy that occurs in Linda by the use of a domestic setting. In addition, a tragedy is also evident in Willy, due to his failure to succeed in a capitalist society. Miller presents this through the stage directions, props and language in the opening 3 pages.
Miller uses props to show the tragedy that occurs in Linda’s personality due to her alienation from the family. Inside the house, the audience is immediately shown a ‘kitchen table with three chairs’, however the audience later goes on to find that infact four people live in this house: Willy, Linda, Biff and Happy. This could suggest the outcast of Linda from the family home, maybe due to her place in society at the time the play was published. Women in 1949 were generally deemed lower in society than men, making it clear to the audience why she obeys Willy and is subservient. Miller uses Stage Directions to show Linda’s inferiority as a women, by the fact she starts ‘taking off his shoes’, yet perhaps a willingness to be subservient because of the fact she continues to obey him throughout the play. The suggestion of Linda being alienated and isolated from the family home is reinforced by the use of her apron being shown ‘before the house’. This may imply Linda reaching out for sympathy from the audience because she is alone and feels rejected from society, yet it is more plausible that it presents the tragedy that is occurring in Linda due to her isolation and subservience to Willy. Furthermore, Miller’s use of props shows that perhaps Willy’s failing brought down Linda and that she could of succeed in the capitalist society if not for him. This is shown by the ‘brass bedstead’, brass is a cheap metal and often classed as a second best material, this then links to the ‘silver athletic trophy’. The trophy is the only thing in the house that shows a form of achievement, yet being silver shows how it is only second place. Therefore these possessions show the failings of Willy and the family as a whole as none are currently able to succeed. However at the end of the play after Willy’s death, Linda becomes free from capitalist society and the audience hope that she may be able to then succeed.
Miller’s use of questions through Linda’s speech creates excuses for Willy, perhaps the reason for Willy’s later downfall. Linda’s pessimism shows how she constantly worries for Willy yet also creates reason and excuses on why he is home and not making money. ‘You didn’t smash the car again did you?’ shows her use of pessimism; by Miller placing it as her third line in the play it foreshadows Willy’s death to the audience perhaps making them frightful by hinting the way he may die. ‘Again’ implies to the audience that Willy could have crashed the car before suggesting that maybe he has been careless with his possessions, maybe suggesting this is the reason he cannot succeed in the capitalist society. The verb ‘smash’ could imply shattered dreams and wishes on both Willy and Linda’s behalf, perhaps making the audience feel great condolence for Willy as he never got to live his dreams or be free from the society that trapped him in. By using excuses it implies Linda cannot accept that Willy is ill, that his death causes the tragedy to occur inside her. However it is more plausible that she infact makes excuses for him, to hide the fact they have no money and blames their lack of money down to his illness and incapability to succeed in a capitalist society. ’Maybe it was your glasses. You never went for your new glasses’, shows Linda steering away from the problem, which is the lack of money and by using the adjective ‘new’ it reinforces the idea of incapability to buy a glasses from lack of money. However after Willy’s death Linda manages to pay off the mortgage, suggesting that she