These kinds of conversations give us a feeling of how Willy feels boxed in, by his job, his pretences that he is constantly keeping up. And how it is exhausting him. An example of Willy’s fantasies is his brother Ben. Willy often speaks to his dead brother in hallucinations and flashbacks. Miller uses Ben as a device to show us what Willy really wants, he is a metaphor for all the things Willy doesn’t have and Willy sees not going with Ben as his one big mistake.
Ben: “when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out.
And by god I was rich. ” Willy: “you see what I’ve been talking about? The greatest things can happen! ” The language Willy uses is very descriptive of his character, it is confused and repetitive in parts such as phrases like “personality wins the day” and “I am well liked”. These are like Willy’s personal slogans that he repeats when he is unsure of himself.
Miller uses flashbacks to confuse the other characters in the play. Willy’s speech often makes sense to us as we can see what he sees but is complete nonsense to the other characters.
Such as when he is speaking to Ben in a hallucination and Charley in real life and the conversations become overlapped. We can see how others perceive him and that makes us feel sorry for him. I think Miller’s use of flashbacks also helps create sympathy with Willy as it shows us the life he used to have, what he used to be, an ambitious young man with his whole life before him, and now, he is in the same position financially but with no time to improve it.
He has run out, in his mind and in the world he lives in.
Willy knows this and is in desperate denial, and the audience know it too and wish there was something he could do or realise to make things better. We are kept wondering what disrupt between Biff and Willy has drawn them apart until after Willy’s sons have left him. Then after Willy is left a lonely, unemployed man the adultery scene is revealed. This is to keep the audiences sympathy as otherwise we may have thought that Willy deserved everything he got, and Miller does not want hostile feelings towards Willy. Miller helps us feel as if we are truly ‘inside Willy’s head’ by using the stage in a very clever way.
The play is very naturalistic in most ways, but to create the effect of the fantasies that Willy is having he uses different areas of the stage as Willy’s different levels of consciousness. Different parts of the stage light up and characters wander on and off stage, it gives us the feeling that the stage is Willy’s mind. Also it makes the play a believable naturalistic one. Miller uses a lot of music to demonstrate the nature of the scene. Music often starts up when Willy is having a flashback or when a moving moment of some sort is about to occur.
This gives the scene meaning and also makes it more evocative as the emotion can be sensed through the music. When reading the play you see also that Miller has included very detailed stage directions. The play is never standing still but constantly moving around and this gives the flashbacks and hallucinations more substance, they’re not flat like they so easily could have been, or confusing for the audience. I think Miller includes such detailed stage directions because the play could be so easily twisted.
If Miller left it up to the director to decide how to play the scenes Willy could come across in a completely different way, which would totally alter the implication of the play. Miller does not want Willy to come across as crazy as he is not. Miller has a very important message to tell in his play and has done it very effectively. Willy Loman and his family are the poor victims of American society who have been suffering because of what their government has set as a national standard. It is a tragic story and Arthur Miller has been extremely successful in making it powerful and touching.