The Significance of Music in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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The Significance of Music in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


Human emotions are something that we seldom find a way to express clearly: from simple hand gestures, to a disgusted face. To understand his novel more thoroughly, Arthur Miller uses the most understandable method of comprehension, music, to express the emotions of the characters in his play, "Death of a Salesman". The characters, Willy, Linda, Biff, Happy, and Ben, have a certain style of music and instruments portraying them to show the reader what type of emotional person they are.

The beginning of the play starts with a soft, sweet, flute medley that announces Willy’s gradual trek home from Yonkers. This slow tune of confusion ends abruptly as Willy comes
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The play has a sense of joy in it. Willy’s flashbacks always occur toward the same time where the Lomans were happy. Starting with Biff’s football days in high school. The music in those scenes would make anyone feel like they were on top of the world, just like Biff and Willy felt. Then comes Ben. Ben is Willy’s savior. Always acting like a parental figure, Ben was Willy’s answer to everything. A pure, fast paced song represented Willy’s hopes. The emotions involved in this type of music were mainly enthusiasm, confidence, and courage. Biff’s example of when he decides to go and see Bill Oliver and ask for a loan to start the sporting goods business is a good example of music interpreting confidence. Another bit of confidence is felt when Willy is going to ask Howard for a stationary job in New York.

The music that sounds troublesome in this play would have to be anything that involved the Woman. The Woman is involved in many conflicts, but mainly between Biff and Willy. When Willy is in the bathroom at the restaurant, a cheerful song begins, along side of the Woman’s laughter. The instant that Biff sees the Woman, the music stops, then begins once more but in a slow, droopy manner. Now the music stops after a life has been wrecked. This type of music has been foreshadowing his oncoming death by starting merry and…