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Death of a Salesman
Transcript of Death of a Salesman
"... The surrounding area shows an angry glow of orange..." (p. 11)
As soon as the play begins; the scene is described with colors.
The "angry" orange contrasts against the blue sky, brass bedstead and silver trophies. It can foreshadow future events; the surrounding area could symbolize the physical area around the house or symbolize society.
Orange is generally a warning color and describing it as "angry" would emphasize the negativity.
Motif : Color
In "The Death of a Salesman", a recurring theme [motif] is color.
The use of color in this play is used for various reasons; to set the mood, tone, atmosphere or to foreshadow.
This play uses color numerous times
Red is a cautious color; it can evoke emotions like, love, lust and caution.
"... when I had that red Chevvy ..." (p. 19)
"... a bunch of long-stemmed roses ..." (p. 122)
"... when Linda, in clothes of mourning, bearing a little bunch of roses ..." (p. 136)
This quote refers to Willy's past which is a happy memory
The color red could symbolize Willy; at first, it is just simply a warning
As the play progresses, the color red loses its innocence
Here, Happy is bringing Linda roses [we assume the roses are red]
Linda rejects the roses in anger and knocks them to the ground, symbolizing the color's [as well as Willy's] loss of innocence [in Willy's case, his mental stability]
It also exposes Linda's other side; she acts different with Willy than with her children
Willy has committed suicide and they are attending his funeral
Linda holds [red] roses which she had rejected earlier
irony; she threw away/rejected roses earlier
the red roses symbolize the finality of the story and a last warning
"... You don't want them calling you yellow, do you?"(p. 128)
Biff says this to Willy and "yellow" in this case is sickly, pale color; to convince Willy to talk to Linda, he says if he doesn't go, he'll be called "yellow" which means to be cowardly
References to gold and yellow
gold is a color that represents success, prosperity, happiness, wealth, power etc.
"The Gold Coast!" (p. 48)
Biff had gold football gear. (p. 68, 86)
The fountain pen Biff stole was gold (p. 110)
This refers to Ben's success in becoming rich when he went to Africa
Refers to Biff's past where he was the star quarterback and he had it all; he was popular, happy and had 3 scholarships
This represents the downfall of the Lomans; the impossibility of achieving the "American Dream"
" ... he died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers ..." (p. 81)
"The light of green leaves stains the house , which holds the air of night and a dream." (p. 109)
Green is a cold color and symbolizes money and greed.
Willy's idol, Dave Singleman had died the "death of a salesman"
The green velvet slippers represent the wealth and power Dave had and what Willy wants
The setting is described by the light of the leaves which cast the house in a green glow
it described as a "stain" -- negative word; Willy is greedy for money, willing to sacrifice anything [even his life]
Blue is generally regarded as a cold and sad, hopeless color.
"... I won't have anyone making him feel unwanted and low and blue ..." (p. 55)
Linda is saying that he doesn't want her dear husband to feel sad or down [to feel blue]
"He is in the blue of the night." (p. 125)
As Willy is trying to pointless plant seeds that won't grow
The "blue of the night" is the depressing atmosphere that Willy is in; he has lost all hope, now resorting to suicide
"He’s a man way out there in the blue ..." (p. 138)
Charley describes Willy
Blue could refer to ocean metaphorically [the business world is vast and very rough]
Black is a color of mystery, negative influences and sins.
"She is in a black slip; he is buttoning his shirt." (p. 116)
The woman that Willy cheated on Linda with is wearing a black slip [a lingerie type dress]
the color of the dress represents the negative influence she has on Willy as he cheats on his wife
Although the color black does not appear much, the mood of the play is dark
"Your hair got so gray." (p. 54)
"She got gray. Mom got awful old." (p. 66)
All the references to the color gray are about Linda getting old from Biff.
Linda is tired from taking care of Willy with his growing unstable mental health
Linda and Willy are both growing old
Gray is a color that shows wearing out, tiredness or aging.
White is not a color mentioned but there are references to diamonds, which include all colors. The diamond [all colors] represent total success or the "American Dream".
"Whatever happened to that diamond watch fob?" (p. 52)
"... a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked!" (p. 86)
Willy is talking about Ben and his success but he thinks the only reason he got successful was to be liked
He is greedy for "diamonds" [which symbolizes success and wealth]
Willy wants the diamond watch fob as he lusts for wealth/success although they had already pawned it
"I see it like a diamond ..." (p.126)
Willy refers to the money his family would get from the insurance company
He can see what he thinks is the "American Dream"
The diamond [American Dream] blinds him to any logical thinking/reasoning
References to color in general
"Pop? Why he's got the finest eye for color in the business ..." (p.20)
Ironic how Willy doesn't realize his dream, that his way of doing things were wrong and committing suicide wouldn't give his family money
"They must be finished painting by now. They're painting her room ..." (p. 119)
Painting is covering up the original with color
Willy is painting over his lies to Biff
"The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy." (p. 134)
Ben [Willy's imagination] tells Willy this; Willy thinks although the path of a salesman may seem bleak or hopeless, there are plenty of opportunities to become successful
This encourages Willy to think that suicide is one of the opportunities to get the Loman's rich
Orange is generally a warm color but a darker orange can mean deceit or distrust.