In Death of a Salesman, what action takes place on the apron of the stage?

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Michael Otis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Death of a Salesman's author Arthur Miller originally wanted to entitle his landmark American tragedy The Inside of His Head to reflect the time shifting from present to past of the protagonist, Willy Loman. In his original conception, Miller envisioned "an enormous face the height of the proscenium arch that would appear and open up, and we would see the inside of a man's head"; the action of the play, therefore, would take place exteriorly and interiorly.  Circumstances intervened and Miller changed both the title and the staging of the play. Despite this change, however, the play still contains two types of time and action: real and remembered. This time shifting is the locus for Willy's tragic downfall. And it is still reflected in the staging of the play. Miller uses both the Shakespearean stage and the modern proscenium to symbolize the time shifting in Death of Salesman. Events in the present take place on the domestic set framed by the proscenium, but remembered events take place on the apron and the forestage. It can be said, therefore, that Miller not only reconfigured the idea of tragedy, he also reconfigured stage time, allowing it to symbolize the interior and exterior realities of the principal character.

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Death of a Salesman

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