Essay: American Literature: Death of a Salesman

The Death of a Salesman was performed in 1949 and still remains to be a classic of the American theater today. Miller provides an extensive and a clear stage directions that give his readers a vivid picture and information about the lives the characters in the play lead. By blending the realistic touches and other less realistic dramatic elements, Miller displays how the play speaks powerfully to the readers and the viewers today as it did back in the year 1949; which leaves the audiences stunned by the thrust of his perceptions on the life of an ordinary American family today. This paper is attempting to compare between the Broadway production and the most recent performances of the play. This comparison will be done by considering the similarities of the original sketches, the original performance, and the most recent performance. The paper will also analyze how much freedom the directors and actors in the play are given when they stage a play; and the benefits of a detailed directions and a less detailed directions. Finally, the paper will analyze how the directions in the play affect how you envision the play being performed.
Miller reveals Willy’s thoughts of expressionistic memory scenes that he reenact rather than merely remembering them. Miller does this by looking at Willy’s thoughts in different scenes, times, and places, as his states of mind fluctuate and merge. By doing this, Miller raises the questions about the social values and attitudes and the pursuit for success for the average American man’s dream. This leads us to the analysis of the similarities of the sketches of the original play, the original performance and the most recent performance. It is clear that they resemble a lot in several ways. The original sketch shows Willy entering the office and there are two chairs and a desk at the center of the office. This setting is similar with the most recent performance, where Kazan placed a chair and a desk in the office in a setting which is almost similar to that of 1949. The desk is used for both the office scenes. The first office scene it is used is in the Heiser’s office and the second office scene is the Charley’s office. Also comparing the most present production and the original production, it is seen that in the present, the actors observe the imaginary wall-lines, and entered the house only via the door at the left. While in the original performance these boundaries are broken, and characters enter or leave a room by walking through a wall onto the forestage. Also the most recent performance has the drawings of the salesman’s wife in grief and sitting on the forestage, and her two sons behind her, resembles the original performance sketch of Linda sitting beside her husband’s grave in deep sorrow while her two sons were begging her to stand up and go home, since it was getting dark and the gate was about to be closed.
The directors and the actors are usually given some freedom when they stage the play in order to make changes where necessary. The directors are given the freedom to choose and determine how the transition from one scene to another would be made. They are to plan on how the grand plan would look like and cut-out the card-board symbols representing the props. The director together with the actors are to determine how certain arrangements are to be made and make transitions through these arrangements. For instance, in an office scene, the directors are to determine how to remove in quick succession, two desks, two chairs, and a hat rack which the current script demand, and at the same time have an actor walk quickly across the stage and appear in a hotel room in Boston where the actor meets a girl.
The play is accompanied with a series of stage or detailed directions as given by Miller. Stage directions are instructions written in the script of a play which indicate stage actions, movements of performance or the production requirements. The detailed directions used in this play have the following benefits: First, they describe in details the imaginations of Miller concerning the appearance of the environment of the play. They also provide a critical physical aspect of the setting s and the characters in the play. The detailed directions used in this play also produces the tone and mood of the play. The reader is able to get the tone and the mood just by following the stage directions. Sometimes the play uses less details that would give room and allow the readers and viewers to interpret the play on their own imaginations. These less stage directions would enable the readers to get the tone of the play at a glance. The less detailed directions would also help the directors concentrate on creating the scenes of the play and organize a smooth transition from one scene to another without the need to explain more information about the play.
The stage directions have an influence of how the readers and viewers envision the play being performed. They enable the readers and viewers to see what the play intended to display. The stage directions also envisions the reader with the clue of the play and the imaginations of the actors. The reader is also able to imagine a conversation between him and the playwright when he is not there. The reader is able to envision the complete story that is the mind of the playwright. The reader is also able to envision the character’s facial expressions and movements.
In summary, Miller has effectively used realistic dramatic elements and expressionistic memory scenes to create a vivid picture about the social values and attitudes and the pursuit for success for the average American family today similar to that of 1949. The play has focused on the roles played by the directors before they stage a play, and the importance of stage directions and their impacts to the readers and viewers.

Source: Essay UK -

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