Scenery can also be used in the theatre to convey to the audience different characters and themes. It can set the mood or atmosphere of a scene and is used by Miller to highlight the conflicts within Willy. An example of this is the opening scene where you see Willy’s small house surrounded by large skyscrapers. This gives the audience the feeling that the house is compressed and almost consumed by the large buildings surrounding it. This illustrates Miller’s idea that Willy is enclosed and trapped by his ambition and hopes and that they are moving in on him.
It also highlights the conflicts between past and present, as the house represents Willy, a thing of the past in contrast to the skyscrapers, which are new and oppressive. Like the ever-changing view of what is the way to achieve the American Dream and what qualities are needed to get ahead in the business world. Also, in the final scene, the theme that Willy’s dreams have consumed him finally, is shown when ‘ Over the house the hard towers of the apartment buildings rise into sharp focus.
‘ Now that Willy has taken his life, the past no longer matters and there is no longer conflict as only the present remains, represented by the apartment buildings. The idea of Willy being trapped, highlighted by the buildings around, is backed up by the fact that when he is gone he is finally free. This is illustrated by the apartment buildings rising into focus at the very end. Miller uses leaves in the play to represent the passing of time. The leaves fall at points in the play to signify the fact that as time goes on, the more Willy’s inner-conflict is becoming apparent.
We see the leaves when we first go into the past, ‘ the entire house and surroundings become covered in leaves. ‘ The leaves in the past are green and visible whereas in the present the leaves are not seen. The leaves highlight the conflict between past and present in this way; they represent Willy’s dreams. In the past they are green and alive as this is at a time when Willy’s dreams were achievable. In the present however, the leaves are no longer visible. As his dreams become less reachable the leaves fade away with this.
The leaves also demonstrate the theme that Willy is trapped. He is trapped by his dreams and this causes inner-conflict. It is highlighted by the leaves, as the leaves are green and alive when Willy does not have this trapped feeling, yet when he is wracked by inner-conflict the leaves do not appear, as though they are dead. This is representing that his dreams are dead, as he is unable to adjust to the changes in the capitalist system and he is feeling trapped by his inability to change with the times. Also in the scene.