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The function of flashbacks in Death of a Salesman. Essay

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The function of flashbacks in Death of a Salesman.

Throughout Death of a Salesman flashbacks are used continuously,
typically to present the audience with the Loman family's background
and show deterioration. In act one we see the first flashback at the
beginning of the play. As the play starts to go into flashback the
backdrop changes from the present 'Apartment houses' and the
'surroundings become covered in leaves.' The first sign of the Loman's
happy past. Willy is talking sense and telling Biff to watch his
schooling, giving him good advice, and then he shows his wealth,
polishing the car talking about the hammock that Willy is going to
buy, to the punch bag that Willy bought his sons. This all seems too
good to be true and as the flashbacks are taking place throughout the
play we begin to see a tragic hero uncovered, Willy. The flashbacks
show his highs from the past but the reality now is his present, and
his falls. As the flashback begins to uncover, We see that the past is
arriving on stage before the present has left.

Ben a character from the past that is dead is present in flashbacks
throughout the play. But at the start his presence he is more diffuse
as he spreads with all the characters in the flashback. Later Ben is
still apparent but only when Willy is alone in a flashback. As the
flashbacks are happening in the past, the present is still there. So
as Willy is talking to Ben, Linda is confused to who Willy is talking
to.

The 'laughter of the past' is heard during the play from the woman
Willy was having an affair with. This shows Willy conscience, and that
he stills thinks about what he did. The stage directions make a point
of saying, 'From the darkness', and although this is not a ...


... middle of paper ...


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flashback page 15 when the skyscrapers change to trees and leaves.
This shows the environment, which the Loman family used to live in.

The function of flashback in Death of a Salesman has proven to be
successful. It helps to show the contrast between the past and the
present, an insight into Willie's behaviour, and also explains the
decline that Willy is experiencing in throughout his life. The variety
of moods, location and atmosphere throughout the play and its
flashbacks make it easier for the audience to comprehend and get an in
sight into the characters personality. This play makes it easy for the
audience to relate to the characters and their lives. What the Loman's
are going through is a part of reality of which many people have to
deal with everyday and so by incorporating flashbacks into the script
makes the theme more accessible to understand.


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