In Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, what is the significance of the initial stage directions?
Death of a Salesman is set in New York, though there are flashbacks to Boston. The settings are Eastern and urban, but the characters in the play, particularly Willy and Biff, long for the wide, rural vistas of the West. This wanderlust is reflected in the flute music, "telling of grass and trees and the horizon." This mood is set before the curtain rises.
The audience is then confronted with Willy Loman's house. There are "towering, angular shapes behind it, surrounding it on all sides . . . a solid vault of apartment houses around the small, fragile-seeming home." Loman's home is a physical manifestation of the protagonist's state of being: fragile, small, and overwhelmed by the forces around him. The world around him is "towering"; the angularity is emblematic of the postwar, postmodern architecture that characterizes New York. Loman is not a part of this new world. He clings to a distant past, "an air of the dream [that] clings to the place."
The kitchen is placed at the center of...
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