Practice question- demonstrate your understanding of your text as a drama, analyse how composers use dramatic texts to highlight key themes.
Arthur Miller uses dramatic techniques to highlight key themes in his dramatic play Death Of A Salesman. Throughout my study of Miller’s play I have developed a deeper knowledge towards my understanding of the way’s composers like Arthur Miller, make effective use of dramatic devices such as Mobile Concurrency, stage directions, lightings, motifs, set design/costumes and characterisation to convey themes of The American Dream, betrayal and family dynamics.
Miller is quoted as saying that “the common man is as much a subject of tragedy as Kings”. This is the case with Miller’s characterisation of Willy Loman. The play follows the structure of tragedy as the audience is positioned to see not so much as great man but a man who obsesses about being great. Willy Says “Not finding yourself at the age of 34 is disgraceful; certain men just don’t get started till later in life. Like Thomas Edison... I’ll put my money on Biff”. From the beginning of the play we see Willy contradicting himself and his reveals his tragic flaw which is his inability to see the truth. While he complains to Linda about Biff’s return home in his lines, “Not finding yourself at the age of thirty-four is disgraceful, he soon contradicts himself by exaggerating Biff’s potential, “certain men just don’t get started till later in life. Like Thomas Edison... I’ll put my money on Biff” High modality and equating success with money exposes Willy’s obsession with the myth of the American Dream success story. From the outset, Millers use of characterisation and staging show a family struggling to make mortgage repayments and a travelling salesman at the end of a less than spectacular career. It becomes evident through these dramatic devices that Willy hopes for attaining the American Dream are centred around his sons’ success as Miller highlights that Willy clearly hasn’t been the success that he hoped to.
It is through Miller’s effective use of mobile concurrency that the audience gain insight into Willy Loman’s lifetime in only a few hours of theatre viewing. Mobile concurrency is not a flash back technique but one where dream and reality co-exist giving the audience access into Willy’s mind and psychological breakdown. Willy tells biff “Never leave a job till you’re finished... up in Albany I saw a beautiful hammock, I think I’ll buy it... will hang it... just swingin’ there, wouldn’t that be something’?” “Where’d you get that new ball?... coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative”.
The first occurrence of mobile concurrency in the play, is when the lights fade on Biff and Happy’s bedroom and Willy is seen talking to himself in the kitchen in a dream stage that is of a happier past time. Mobile concurrency is what enables the audience to see where things go wrong for Willy and the Loman family dynamics. While Willy gives Biff good advice, “never leave a job till you’re finished –remember that” he then goes on to fantasise about his idea of living the American Dream, as Miller’s imagery highlights “up in Albany, I saw a beautiful Hammock... I think I’ll buy it. Wouldn’t that be something? Just swingin’ there under those branches”. In this act as well as the entire play, mobile concurrency is highlighting the plays themes of the myth of the American Dream and the growth of family dysfunctions. It is Willy’s clinging onto the myth of the American Dream that sees him to make the personal and tragic mistake of giving Biff very confused advice by dismissing his stealing to get ahead in life, “where’d you get that new ball?” coach’ll probably congratulate you on your initiative” this exposes the cycle of pressure that Willy places on Biff and, in turn Biff’s habbit for stealing as a means of