Human emotions are something that we seldom find a way to express clearly: from simple hand gestures, to a disgusted face. To understand his novel more thoroughly, Arthur Miller uses the most understandable method of comprehension, music, to express the emotions of the characters in his play, “Death of a Salesman”. The characters, Willy, Linda, Biff, Happy, and Ben, have a certain style of music and instruments portraying them to show the reader what type of emotional person they are.
The beginning of the play starts with a soft, sweet, flute medley that announces Willys gradual trek home from Yonkers. This slow tune of confusion ends abruptly as Willy comes home and tells of his troubles in Yonkers. This sentimental sound is heard once more during Bens first visit to Willys house. His story of father and his flute-making business sets a warm tone only to be wrecked by Bens action of throwing Biff, a young, curious boy, to the ground, helplessly. The final performance of this tune is heard at Willys sad funeral, where Linda pays her respects to her well-liked husband. Ending on a sad note, the flute appears in time of odd emotions. In the beginning of the play, a state of confusion is felt. During Bens visit, a state of pride is felt. At the end, a state of loneliness is felt, leading the reader to think if there is an ironic relationship between the flute, representing Willys father, leaving early and Willys sad end.
The play has a sense of joy in it. Willys flashbacks always occur toward the same time where the Lomans were happy. Starting with Biffs football days in high school. The music in those scenes would make anyone feel like they were on top of the world, just like Biff and Willy felt. Then comes Ben. Ben is Willys savior. Always acting like a parental figure, Ben was Willys answer to everything. A pure, fast paced song represented Willys hopes. The emotions involved in this type of music were mainly enthusiasm, confidence, and courage. Biffs example of when he decides to go and see Bill Oliver and ask for a loan to start the sporting goods business is a good example of music interpreting confidence. Another bit of confidence is felt when Willy is going to ask Howard for a stationary job in New York.
The music that sounds troublesome in this play would have to be anything that involved the Woman. The Woman is involved in many conflicts, but mainly between Biff and Willy. When Willy is in the bathroom at the restaurant, a cheerful song begins, along side of the Womans laughter. The instant that Biff sees the Woman, the music stops, then begins once more but in a slow, droopy manner. Now the music stops after a life has been wrecked. This type of music has been foreshadowing his oncoming death by starting merry and ending abruptly in a sad way.
Ben has a special type of music. Being Willys inspiration, he is portrayed by quick, lively music. His wonderful stories of his life are told in contrast to a proud tune. His song does change a bit in parts where Willy is confused or feeling low but is still lively at that. When Willy would ask Ben for advice or for a short story about their father, Ben would whip out that big grin of his, breath in, and talk away like there was no worry in the world, and to Willy, there wasnt at that period of time.
The saddest song in the play though would be the teary sound of the flute at Willys funeral. Starting out a bit cheerful, the tune fades from a major key to a minor key, hence going from a merry sound to one of sadness and desperation, yet a good sound for a well-deserved tribute.
Willy was a mislead salesman. He wanted the best for his boys. Joyous songs always backed up these times. But when his craving for the best turned into the worst, an unpleasant song backed it up. When Willy was confused, a medley of the two was heard. Human emotions are something we all take for granted because they are not properly understood. Music is just one of the many ways that will make these emotions understandable.