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Death of a Salesman: Function of Setting and Atmosphere

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alessandra mercurio

on 30 May 2016

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Transcript of Death of a Salesman: Function of Setting and Atmosphere

Death of a Salesman: Function of Setting and Atmosphere
The function of setting and atmosphere in
Death of a Salesman
correspond with one another to show the importance of the Loman household, the time period of the play, and Willy's flashbacks.
The Loman Household
The setting of the Loman household was fairly old (25 years +), it was barley able to keep upright and was crowded by buildings.
The atmosphere of the Loman household was always surrounded by negativity and darkness, due to the surrounding apartment buildings. This resulted in no sunlight being able to pass through the house and stripping the image of natures beauty that was once there before.
"Willy: There is no question, no question at all. Gee, on the way home tonight I'd like to buy some seeds. Linda: That'd be wonderful. But not enough sun gets back there. Nothing'll grow anymore." (Miller 72)
This quote symbolizes that in the past everything used to be so great (Willy making more money, there was no population growth, thus resulting in no buildings that would be built). The atmosphere of this scene was cheerful, until the realization of the downfall that Willy was in. This demonstrates how the Loman household effects the setting and atmosphere of the play.
Time Period: 1940's
The setting of
Death of a Salesman
was taken place in Brooklyn, New York. 1949.
The atmosphere: When Willy was in his late 20's the dynamic of the atmosphere was completely different. The grass in his backyard was green, the sun was shining through his house. Willy was in a positive and happy place. This all changed when Willy was in his 50's. The sun no longer beamed through his house, everything is dark and miserable.
"The way they boxed us in here... The street is lined with cars. There is not a breath of fresh air in the neighborhood. The grass don't grow anymore...They should've had a law against apartment houses." (Miller 17)
This quote demonstrates that willy does not like change. He wishes that he could go back and live in that time period.
Definitions and Function
Setting: The place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place.

Atmosphere: The pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art. It is the mood created within a scene thorough the use of sound, lighting techniques and emotion.

The function of the setting and atmosphere are key factors in this play. It coincides with character development and the storyline plot. With corresponding elements such as the atmosphere and setting, it plays a major role of understanding why the characters are the way they are.

Willy's Flashback
Setting: Time periods in the play where Willy would stop and venture off into his own train of thought , into his past memories creating scenes of flashbacks.
Atmosphere: Willy's flashbacks give him a sense of happiness and take him back to his happy days.
SECONDARY SOURCE: A quote by Arthur Miller "The structure of the play was determined by what was needed to draw up his memories like a mass of tangled roots without ends or beginnings... The structure of events and the nature of it's form are also the direct reflection of Willy Loman's way of thinking at this moment of his life." Scholarly journal,
Death of a Salesman
: A study of attitudinal structure. (Salaam Al- Sarory, Mutee Abdul 1)
This quote explains how the importance of Willy's memories as well as his flashbacks.
Staging of The Play & The Effects
Arthur Miller provides the audience with an experience that may appear traditional, for example the rising action, conflict, climax etc, but what the audience may not see is Miller's manipulation to the set. Miller mirrors Willy's mental state with the setting and atmosphere to allow the audience to witness Willy's mental instability.
Miller also uses several rooms within one scene. The viewer is able to take part in the chaotic scenes where the characters are jumping from one room to the other. This can be a method used to distract the audience to change character or set because everything is happening at once. Through the numerous amounts of rooms being used at once it allows viewers to not have to wait for a new set to be drawn up or torn down.
Camera Effects
Arthur miller uses many camera techniques throughout the play, and example of this is when multiple characters are on set, but wants one to be in preliminary focus. He will manipulate stage lighting to show importance to the character, certain rooms, or props that need to be identifiably noticeable.
Another camera technique that is used is when Willy has his flashbacks. Everything surrounding him will go dim while light focuses on him and the flashback surrounding him. Ex: In Act 1, Willy pours himself a glass of milk in the kitchen while mumbling to himself. He is in the present. He then remembers a past conversation with his son Biff when he was in his teenage years and recites a conversation that was held. The scene resumes from past tense and the character then moves on in the scene in present tense.
Miller allows us to que in when Willy is on stage having a flashback through the use of direction and camera use.
Jay Gatsby vs Willy Loman
Their Fatal flaw
The play is taken place in the 1940's, Do you think that the play would change or have the same outcome as it did if it were taken place in a different time period?
Discussion Question
Discussion Question
Do you think that Willy's flashbacks relate to escapism? Why?
In conclusion the Loman household, the time period of the play, and Willy's flashbacks play a major role in the function of setting and atmosphere. The Loman house allowed us to see a visual representation of what is happening to Willy (breaking down). The time period of the play resembles what went wrong in Willy's life and allows us to see why he wants to live in the past so badly. Willy's flashbacks enable us to see why Willy wants to go back in time and relive those memories. Each of these elements allow the viewer to see the function of the atmosphere and setting.
Works cited
By: Alessandra Mercurio
Salaam Al- Sarory, Mutee Abdul."
Death of a Salesman
: A study of it's Attitudinal structure." Human Resource management International Digest 10.3 (2002): 17-19.Web May 28th 2016.

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman; Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem. New York: Viking, 1949. Print.

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