Death of a Salesman Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman book cover
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What was the setting of the play, "Death of a Salesman"?

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Setting refers to where and when the action in a story takes place. In “Death of a Salesman”, the play is set in 1949. Willy has experienced the depression and the post-war boom and, like the rest of America at this time, is consumed by the desire for material possessions which force him into a lifetime of credit.

The action moves between New York and Boston. It is while Willy is on the road in Boston that Biff discovers his father’s affair – an event which changes his opinion of his father forever.

The Loman house is in Brooklyn. The walls of the property are used flexibly by Miller to highlight the sequences which are out of time: Willy’s flashbacks and dream sequences.

The entire setting is wholly or, in some places, partially transparent…whenever the action is in the present the actors observe the imaginary wall-lines…but in the scenes of the past these boundaries are broken.

The house was formerly surrounded by space, but an apartment block and other buildings now dominate it-

 We see a solid vault of apartment houses around the small, fragile-seeming home.

Other settings in Brooklyn are also referred to. The restaurant where Biff and Happy abandon their father, Howard’s office and the site of Willy’s grave in the requiem are also seen.

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