Presentation on theme: "Arthur Miller (1915--2005) Date of Birth 17 October17 October 1915, New York, New York, USA1915New York, New York, USA Date of Death 10 February10 February."— Presentation transcript:
Arthur Miller ( ) Date of Birth 17 October17 October 1915, New York, New York, USA1915New York, New York, USA Date of Death 10 February10 February 2005, Roxbury, Connecticut, USA (congestive 充血的 heart failure)2005 Birth Name Arthur Asher Miller Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)
Life and creation Arthur Miller was born in the Harlem district of New York, his father was a Jewish clothing manufacturer who was to lose all his business in 1929 during the Depression. In 1938 he graduated from the University of Michigan as a journalism major. He won several prizes for drama when he was a student in the university.
In 1949, he won a Pulitzer Prize with Death of a Salesman and achieved an international reputation. Of the American dramatists emergent since the end of the World War II, only Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller have been awarded respectful attention throughout the world.
His creation 1944 The Man Who Had All the Luck 《红运高照的人》 1947 All My Sons 《全是我的儿子》 1949 Death of a Salesman 《推销员之死》 1955 A View from the Bridge 《街头眺望》 A Memory of Two Mondays 《两个星期一的回忆》 1964 After the Fall 《堕落之后》 Incident at Vichy 《维 希事件》 1968 the Price 《代价》 1977 The Archbishop’s ceiling 《大主教的天花板》 1991 The Ride Down Mt. Morgan 1993 The American Clock 1994 Broken Glass
Selected Reading of Death of a Salesman
Dramatic Personae Willy Loman Father of Biff and Happy, and husband of Linda. He is a traveling salesman that wants the easy way to riches. His sons don’t have a promising future and when he gets fired he ends up committing suicide. Linda Loman: Mother to Biff and Happy, and caring wife of Willy. She tries to help Willy through the hard time, but she just does not know what to do with Willy at the end of the play. Biff Loman: Brother to Happy. Son of Willy and Linda. He is the star football player, but he gets injured. He is not very smart and does not get along too well with his father. He lives out west. Happy Loman: Brother to Biff. Son of Willy and Linda. He is the assistant buyer at the store and thinks of himself highly. He likes to sleep around.
Bernard: Son of Charley. A very successful lawyer that always admired Biff. He makes Willy jealous because neither of his sons were that successful. Charley: Father to Bernard. He is one of Willy’s only friends; he is also Willy’s neighbor. He owns his own business and offers Willy a job, but he refuses. He also gives Willy money to pay his bills. Howard Wagner: Willy’s boss, who fires him. He inherited the company from his father.
Expressionism It is used to describe the works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision, transforming nature rather than imitating it. In literature it is often considered a revolt against realism and naturalism, a seeking to achieve a psychological or spiritual reality rather than to record external events.
In drama, the expressionist work was characterized by a bizarre 古怪的 distortion of reality. Expressionism writers‘ concern was with general truths rather than with particular situations, hence they explored in their plays the predicaments 困境 of representative symbolic types rather than of fully developed individualized characters.
Emphasis was laid on the internal, on an individual‘s mental state-the emotional content, the subjective 主观的 reactions of characters, and symbolic 象征性的 or abstract 抽象的 representations 表现 of reality; hence the imitation 模仿 of life is replaced in Expressionist drama by the ecstatic 狂喜的 evocation 召唤 of states of mind.
In America, Eugene O‘Neille’s Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape, etc. are typical plays that employ Expressionism to highlight the theatrical effect of the rupture 敌对 between the two sides of an individual human being, the private and the public. The movement, though short-lived, gave impetus 动力 to a free form of writing and of theatrical production.
Setting The time period is the late 1940’s probably, with some flashbacks into Willy’s past. There are three major cities that the play occurs in: 1) Brooklyn, 2) New York, 3) Boston.
Plot An old successful salesman has now aged and is not successful anymore. He tried to convince his lazy and worthless sons that they need to make something of their lives, but his call is unheard. He then goes to talk to his boss about a raise, and in turn he is fired.
Happy then has the idea that all three of them should start their own company, but when Biff is denied the loan he doesn’t tell his father. Both Happy and Biff leave Willy at the restaurant, which causes Willy to be depressed. Biff then leaves the home in anger and Willy is finally successful at committing suicide after many failed attempts.
The analysis on the play 1. What kind of the tragedy belongs to? (Modern social, modern spiritual or modern personal)? 2. Three values in the play. 3. The theme of the play. 4. The music’s effect of the play. 5. What kind of technique does the writer use?
1. What kind of tragedy does the play belongs to? (Modern social, modern spiritual or modern personal)? Tragedy, modern social and personal tragedy. Modern social tragedy has two important themes. On one hand, it makes human being dissimilated, is a kind of loss of human being’s dignity and value; on the other hand, it makes human be in living predicament.
The protagonist Willy Loman killed himself just because he cannot incarnate his own value and he is having a great living predicament. The protagonist Willy, is one who loses the human being’s value but is not willing to fail, his tragedy is one’s tragedy who maintains his self-respect but has to rebuild his value in illusion.
2. Three values in the play.
Three values in the play There are three values in the play, Ben’s value, Charley’s value and Linda’s value. Ben’s value: adventurously getting money, it is apparently unfair; Charley’s value: his character fits for the environment, so he is successful Linda’s value: loyalty to her family and husband. But the three values are not pursuit of Willy, he not only needs money, but also wants to make sure why human beings live.
3. The theme of the play. In the modern society, there are too many conflicts between human beings and society. In this novel, it shows personal value can not be incarnated, and individual meets the existence predicament 生存困境.
The Dangers of Modernity: Death of a Salesman premiered in 1949, right on the brink of the 1950s, a decade of unprecedented 空前的 consumerism 用户之上主义 and technical advances in America. Gender Relations: In Death of a Salesman, woman are sharply divided into two categories: Linda and others.
Madness: Madness is a dangerous theme for many artists, whose creativity can put them on the edge of what is socially acceptable. Miller, however, treats the quite bourgeois theme of the nuclear family, so his interposition 介入 of the theme of madness is quite startling.
Cult 祭仪 of Personality: One of Miller's techniques throughout the play is to familiarize certain characters by having them repeat the same key line over and over. Willy's most common line is that businessmen must be well-liked, rather than merely liked, and his business strategy is based entirely on the idea of a cult of personality.
Nostalgia: The dominant emotion throughout this play is nostalgia, which is understandable given that all of the Lomans feel that they have made mistakes or wrong choices. The technical aspects of the play feed this emotion by making seamless transitions back and forth from happier, earlier times in the play.
Opportunity: Tied up intimately with the idea of the American dream is the concept of opportunity. America claims to be the land of opportunity, of social mobility. Growth: In a play which rocks back and forth through different time periods, one would normally expect to witness some growth in the characters involved. Not so in Death of a Salesmen, where the various members of the Loman family are stuck in the same character flaws, in the same personal ruts 惯例 throughout time.
For his part, Willy does not recognize that his business principles do not work, and continues to emphasize the wrong qualities. Biff and Happy are not only stuck with their childhood names in their childhood bedrooms but also are hobbled by their childhood problems: Biff‘s bitterness toward his father and Happy’s dysfunctional 功能紊乱 relationship with women. In a poignant 令人痛苦的 moment at the end of the play, Willy tries to plant some seeds when he realizes that his family has not grown at all over time.
4. The music’s effect of the play.
The analysis on the music 1. In the selected reading, music is listened for three times. Could you analyze the effect of the music? 1.) When Biff went to Boston to find his father Loman for help… “…the music is gone”(P281). Analysis: Biff is a young boy who regards his father as a successful person, he thinks his father can solve the math failure problem, but when he sees the woman with his father, he is depressed from then on. Here the music may suggest that Biff fail in the future.
2.) As the car speeds off, the music crashes down in a frenzy of sound, which becomes the soft pulsation of a single cello string. …(P292) Analysis: the music crashes down in a frenzy of sound, it has two effects: one is telling the audience that the protagonist Willy Loman killed himself in a car, it is the end to himself and a disaster to his family, the other is that this is a shock to the audience. Loman is dead, all the dreams crashed, but people have to live, his family have to face everything.
3.) The music has developed into a dead march… Analysis: the music tells the audience that this is the end of the drama, this is the end of Willy Loman, this is his funeral music too.
2. What purposes are served by the flute music used throughout the play? The play begins “A melody is heard, played upon a flute. It is small and fine, telling of grass and trees and the horizon… An air of the dream cling to the place, a dream rising out of reality.” the play ends with: “only the music of the flute is left on the buildings rise into sharp focus”.
It began with dreams and longings 梦想和渴望 of the human heart and the curtain comes down on shattered dreams 破碎的梦 ; the longings are still there, but side by side stand the hard facts of reality.
The playwright has taken particular care throughout to underline the sense of inadequacy 不充分 in Loman’s life, his idealized attitude towards a society he never understood, and above all to convey the image of a trapped animal in a rigid social structure. Loman encounters many pitfalls 缺 陷 in his character; he is neither ideal father nor ideal husband. These are the defects of his weakness.
5. What kind of technique does the writer use? Realism and expressionism. The play is one two-act drama, its real time contains two days and one night. The author combines the realism with expressionism to promote the modern social tragedy to a new depth.
In the play, there are realism settings which are Willy’s kitchen, backyard, Willy couple’s bedroom, the two brothers’ sleeping place, one restaurant, Willy’s boss Howard’s office and his friend Charley’s office. But the play’s content happens in Willy’s illusion. The playwright used the skill flashbacks to show them in the real settings.
The writer mixed reality with the past and some deep ideological action to show out Willy’s psychological movement. This technique is assisted by the extraordinary music to foil the character and the theme of the play. This play appears in the traditional two-scene drama but it is inserted by light and all kinds of scenic changes so as to reveal the inner association; the real settings separate the dramatic reality from the fictional events.
There are two effects: on one side, the actual content contains Willy’s whole life and it connects the subjective with objective truth; on the other hand, it protrudes the conflict between reality and illusion, Willy’s value is roaming these two sides.
Some symbols Motifs expressionism
symbols ( objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts ) Seeds Seeds represent for Willy the opportunity to prove the worth of his labor, both as a salesman and a father. Willy often comments on his want to plant his own garden.
His desperate, nocturnal 夜间活动的 attempt to grow vegetables signifies his shame about barely being able to put food on the table and having nothing to leave his children when he passes. Willy feels that he has worked hard but fears that he will not be able to help his offspring any more than his own abandoning father helped him.
The seeds also symbolize Willy’s sense of failure with Biff. Despite the American Dream’s formula for success, which Willy considers infallible 必然的, Willy’s efforts to cultivate and nurture Biff went away. Realizing that his all-American football star has turned into a lazy bum, Willy takes Biff’s failure and lack of ambition as a reflection of his abilities as a father.
Diamonds To Willy, diamonds represent tangible 真实的 wealth and, hence, both validation 验证 of one’s labor (and life) and the ability to pass material goods on to one’s offspring 后代, two things that Willy desperately craves.
Correlatively, diamonds, the discovery of which made Ben a fortune, symbolize Willy’s failure as a salesman. Despite Willy’s belief in the American Dream, a belief unwavering 坚定 的 to the extent that he passed up the opportunity to go with Ben to Alaska, the Dream’s promise of financial security has eluded Willy.
At the end of the play, Ben encourages Willy to enter the “jungle” finally and retrieve this elusive diamond—that is, to kill himself for insurance money in order to make his life meaningful.
Linda’s and The Woman’s Stockings Willy’s strange obsession 困扰 with the condition of Linda’s stockings foreshadows 预 示 his later flashback to Biff’s discovery of him and The Woman in their Boston hotel room. The teenage Biff accuses Willy of giving away Linda’s stockings to The Woman.
Stockings assume a metaphorical weight as the symbol of betrayal 背叛 and sexual infidelity 不贞. New stockings are important for both Willy’s pride in being financially successful and thus able to provide for his family and for Willy’s ability to ease his guilt about, and suppress the memory of, his betrayal of Linda and Biff.
The Rubber Hose The rubber hose is a stage prop 必需品 that reminds the audience of Willy’s desperate attempts at suicide. He has apparently attempted to kill himself by inhaling gas, which is, ironically, the very substance essential to one of the most basic elements with which he must equip his home for his family’s health and comfort—heat.
Literal death by inhaling gas parallels the metaphorical death that Willy feels in his struggle to afford such a basic necessity.
Motifs in the play Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. In Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman, the use of motifs, or reoccurring events, such as the silk stockings, Biff’s compulsive stealing, and the idea of being well liked show Loman’s families false standards in life that lead to their failures.
The silk stockings They are a reoccurring event in the book that represents Willy’s act of adultery with another women where he promised this woman silk stockings if she would do sexual favors for him.
Every time Willy thinks of or is reminded of silk stockings he hears the mocking laugh of the women he cheated with. This laugh illustrates the deep guilt that Willy holds for committing such an act on his sweet wife.
When his wife, Linda, is mending the stockings he begs her to stop mending them because his guilt rises each time he sees her struggle. “Will you stop mending stockings? At least while I’m in the house. It gets me nervous. I can’t tell you. Please.?” Knowing that his wife is struggling in life to save money by mending the stockings.
Biff’s stealing Biff’s stealing shows Willy’s inept 不适当的 beliefs. He spent too much time convincing himself he could be a successful salesman, when what he was clear he was skilled at working with his hands. Biff is creating a dishonest vision of the past (like his dad). His lies are convinced enough to become the truth, and he can't remember which version of the story is right.
The American West, Alaska, and the African Jungle These regions represent the potential of instinct to Biff and Willy. Willy’s father found success in Alaska and his brother, Ben, became rich in Africa; these exotic locales, especially when compared to Willy’s banal Brooklyn neighborhood, crystallize 明确 how Willy’s obsession with the commercial world of the city has trapped him in an unpleasant reality.
Whereas Alaska and the African jungle symbolize Willy’s failure, the American West, on the other hand, symbolizes Biff’s potential. Biff realizes that he has been content only when working on farms, out in the open.
His westward escape from both Willy’s delusions 幻想 and the commercial world of the eastern United States suggests a nineteenth-century pioneer mentality—Biff, unlike Willy, recognizes the importance of the individual.
Another motif in the book is the idea but forth by Willy that being well liked in life is all that matters. Also he believed being well liked was all that mattered, when in the end most successful people were disliked. By holding false viewpoints the Loman’s family was destined for failure, which is what they achieved. He’s that she would just buy new ones because he gave the woman free stockings and not didn’t give his own wife some.
Biff quit working for Bill Oliver because he was accused of stealing a carton of basketballs (which he did), but despite that, Biff believes that Oliver will give him a job. If he'd followed the right dreams, and confronted his abilities in a realistic and honest way, he may not have been a failure, and his life might not have ended this way.
Willy, feeling guilty about betraying Linda with adultery, gets anxious and upset any time he sees her mending her silk stockings; stockings were the gift he always gave the Woman when they met. He cheats on Linda, his adoring and supportive wife, with some secretary, so that he has a contact with the buyers in Boston. .
Throughout book Willy tells Biff and Hap that a well-liked person is a person that moves up in the ladder of success. Willy was clearly wrong about Bernard; he grew up to become a successful lawyer, arguing a case before the Supreme Court, while Willy's sons grew up to become unproductive bums.
7. The analysis on the characters 6. What are the causes that make Willy Commit suicide? 7. Discuss Linda’s actions as a wife and mother. Does Miller present her as ideal in either capacity? What might she have done to make her family and herself happier? 8.Compare Willy and Biff with Charley and Bernard. Can we assume that Charley and Bernard represent the playwright’s ideal?
6. What are the causes that make Willy Commit suicide?
Miller has seized this open contradiction 矛盾 to dramatis the individual torn between the expected and the actual. His approach to, and treatment of, the theme is sociological, although the characteristic indignation 愤慨 of social protest plays is subdued 缓和, and a large amount of human sympathy and pity for the underdog 失败者, perplexed in the grip of unexpected circumstances and too powerful forces, is the final impression of his theatre.
Most of Miller’s characters are undistinguished citizens who do not understand themselves or the overwhelming 势不可挡的 social forces that destroy them; their defects and redeeming qualities are not above criticism, but they have a certain quality of character which may be described as obstinacy 固执, thoughtless obstinacy, driving them to destruction… This sense of tragedy, however, is essentially social in nature and rarely touches the larger sphere beyond it.
Democracy proclaims the individual in society to be free, and American democracy, in addition, approves the myth of his infinite success and happiness. The law and social conventions constrain 约束 and frustrate 挫败 him in what he has come to believe as the birth-right of a member of the greatest open society.
Willy Loman’s entire life is a question mark in that direction, although he did never suspect that he was asking this question throughout his career as salesman. In fact he was not selling automobiles, he was selling himself to ensure personal fulfillment, and peace and happiness in the family. And at both the levels he failed as millions do in a competitive commercialized society. He failed to gain the minimum sense of security and prosperity in his profession, and he lost the respect and affection of his children for whom he cared so much.
Willy Loman, however, is largely responsible for his failure. And his failure sums up the case of a misfit who cannot comprehend the intricate mechanism of modern business world, and believes in a desperate way in its goodness and justice. His failure is all the more pitiable because in an age of rigid organization he was content to cherish and follow the declared ideal of the great open society: he was hardworking, he was honest, he trained his sons to be” well- liked”– and yet everything he touched came to nothing. It is almost a typical case of the American dream transformed into American illusion.
Arthur Miller dramatizes not only the longings and disappointments of a little man in America and the inhuman attitude of the business world towards a man not useful to the organization, but what is more important, he focuses our attention on the credibility gap between the American dream and the American reality. The stage directions make it abundantly clear that the dramatist’s central concern was related to this important aspect of modern society.