Flashback in Death of a SalesmanGet Your
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Death of a Salesman Miller uses memory as a time travel device. Identify the point of view of the flashbacks. Can their integrity/validity be trusted? Cite evidence. Regardless of the setting taking place in 1948, Willy Loman is continuously re-living his past in the form of flashbacks. Even though Willy Loman is reminiscing over his own memory, the information that he is providing the readers with may not be the full truth. Many reasons may contribute to this thought; his old age can be a factor of inaccurate memories since he is recollecting the ones of over 10 years.
On the other hand, his daydreams are sometimes due to the fact of the problems he is facing in the present, and instead of escaping to the past, he re-experiences his past to see how his actions led to a change in his present life. Arthur Miller has his own style of displaying the important role of flashbacks in his play. In the opening scene of the play, music by a flute is being played, and as Willy starts to appear, the music starts to become faint. This shows the recollection of Willy’s memory of his father, since he was a flute maker. The important and bvious theme of the American Dream takes a big role in his flashbacks as well. An essential component of fulfilling a perfect life is to have the perfect family, but in Willy’s case, his family is based on tension and conflicts. Willy and his son, Biff, don’t have a very clear father-and-son relationship. Willy would be criticizing his son for being very lazy, and then he contradicts himself and says the opposite, in which Biff is anything but lazy. For this reason, Willy starts reminiscing about the past. He has travelled back into time to examine his past relationship with his son, to see hat went wrong and where exactly. Back in the days, Willy has a really strong relationship with Biff; he even favored him over his other son, Happy. He has always been encouraging him, even when he should be dismayed instead over his bad habits such as theft, where he stole a ball and claimed that he was borrowing it. As Willy tries to erase these memories, the fact that he put high hopes and expectations in Biff was the reason that let him down and is also the cause to the weak relationship they now have.
The past is the place where Willy shelters to when he needs to escape from reality. He tries to think of his family as of the perfect one, but he knows that he is only fooling himself. When he starts remembering the memories, he reinvents it, trying to make it seem better. This is why some of his “so called” memories should not be trusted, and are not mostly valid, because he tries to remember what he would like to see, not what actually happened, because his family never was a fully happy one that took the image of the perfect American Dream family.
In conclusion, the flashbacks that are occurring throughout Willy Loman’s mind are not completely valid, and should not be as trusted because as mentioned, he shows us what he wants to see, and not what actually happened in his past. Excluding the reinvention of his own past life, Willy provides real information when seeking for the flaws. In the end, everyone is after a happy ending, and it is too bad that Willy can’t find his in the present, nor the past, and therefore had to make up his own twist of a happy family within his past.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Flashback in Death of a Salesman
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