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DEATH OF A SALESMAN. SYMBOLISM. One aspect of realism is that elements of the play become highly symbolic. Symbols are elements of a story (dialogue, motifs, situations etc) that keep reappearing throughout.

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slide2

One aspect of realism is that elements of the play become highly symbolic.

  • Symbols are elements of a story (dialogue, motifs, situations etc) that keep reappearing throughout.
  • Symbols are objects, characters, figures or colours used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
slide4

In ‘Death of a Salesman’ consumer objects keep cropping up in the play, as symbols of what is wrong in the society and in the characters’ lives.

  • Cars
  • Refrigerator
  • Stockings
  • The Shower
  • Tape-recorder
  • Tennis Rackets
  • Fountain Pen

Remember that in the late 1940s when the play was written,

far fewer people

would have owned cars.

A refrigerator would also have been a very big purchase

and many families would not have had one.

Buying a fridge then might have been

like buying a satellite disc now.

the wood jungle and diamonds
The wood/jungle and diamonds

What is symbolic about these?

Woods = Willy

Life is crashing down

around him

Jungle = Uncle Ben

Symbolic of success in life

- Materialistic wealth (diamonds)

the garden seeds
The garden/seeds

Seeds

Symbolise

Sense of

Failure

With

Biff

What is symbolic about these?

Planting a garden = Willy needing

to leave something behind

for people to remember him by

(think of him as a great man).

Never planted garden

=

Never achieved success in life

moon and stars
Moon and Stars

What do these symbolise?

Symbolic of the “American Dream”

It is out of Willy’s reach

linda s and the woman s stockings
Linda’s and the woman’s stockings

What do these symbolise?

Symbolic of Willy’s betrayal and sexual infidelity

Self indulgence

Or

Household drudgery?

the rubber hose
The rubber hose

What does this symbolise?

Symbolises Willy’s desperation

And

Loss of hope

essay question
Essay question:
  • Discuss the use of symbolism in Miller’s play ‘Death of a Salesman’.