Motifs and Symbols in Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller

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    Jan 26, 2013
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The flute is played five times in Act 1. It sets an atmosphere of melancholy and sadness. It symbolizes Willy`s futile pursuit of American dream. The second time the flute symbolizes panic. The third time the flute is played when Willy was in the kitchen. He was in a kind of a trance and he was addressing Biff who was not there. He was happy, so the flute symbolizes happiness and joy while Willy remembers the good times with his son. When Willy and Charley were talking, the flute is heard again. Willy`s brother Ben who died a couple of weeks ago is playing the flute. The flute is heard again when Willy starts to remember the things from the past. He remembers Ben visiting his house. Willy`s father was a flute maker and salesman and he used to take the whole family in his wagon and to drive across the country, stopping at towns to sell the flutes. The flute symbolizes joy and happiness.

There are another symbols in the drama. Uncle Ben is the character who deals with the motif of the jungle. These motifs are symbols. The jungle is symbolic of life and diamonds of success. Willy is always talking about planting a garden. The garden is symbolic of Willy needing to leave something behind for people to remember him. Tennis racket is ironic symbol of Bernard`s success. Stockings symbolize Willy`s lack of caring for his wife because he gives stockings to “The Woman”.The play is set in twentieth century industrial society, complete with apartment blocks, financial difficulties and pressures to succeed. There aren`t many details which remind of place and time. The refrigerator which is always breaking down represents everyday life and its struggle and frustrations. The image of life-giving water in the tank is contrasted to the symbol of suicide which Linda discovers, the black rubber pipe with an attachment that fits the gas pipe on the heater.





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