Look Closely at the Requiem at the end of the play. Referring closely to Miller’s language, explain the dramatic effect of this scene. When considering the dramatic effect on an audience or reader, the first important thing to note is the author’s choice to name it a’ Requiem’ rather than’ epilogue’. The definition of Requiem is ‘special Mass for repose of souls of the dead’. This really reveals what main purpose Miller had in mind for this ending and the use of ‘Requiem’ will influence the mood of the audience, provoking sorrow and a melancholic atmosphere.
Miller uses this scene in order to illustrate how, if at all, the characters have changed and the affect Willy’s death has had upon them. The power in the scene seems to lie with Charley, who Miller uses as the only character who seems to be able to face the reality of the situation. His authoritative, sweeping speech is the main feature of the requiem, where he tries to make sense of Willy’s life and sympathise with him. He speaks with conviction and uses rhetorical features of language to help persuade the audience to sympathise with Willy.
He describes Willy as ‘a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine’ and the metaphors he uses capture the essence of a dream-like illusion, allowing the audience to see what Willy dreamed of. The imagery used, particularly the use of the words smile and shoeshine are used by Miller to convey the fragility of the dream Willy has for himself. A smile is dependant on mood, which can change unpredictably and a shoeshine is a sparkle that can only be captured when a pair of shoes are at their most beautifully clean.
This shows Willy’s dreams elusive nature and difficulty to be realised, more so how it would be impossibly hard to maintain. The language used also demonstrates to the audience the wonder of the dreams, however fleeting they are in reality. The whole speech evokes sympathy from and audience or reader for Willy due to the romanticised language Miller uses to illustrate Willy’s dream. He uses repetitions; ‘He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law,’ which hammer home the tragedy of this dream of Willy’s being crushed.
Also, the comment about putting a bolt to a nut is somewhat ironic as we know that, from Biff, that Willy was better practically and Miller uses this irony to criticise the American dream for depriving people of finding their own identities and being consumed by mass markets and mass media. He also repeats the opening line ‘Nobody dast blame this man’ in order to emphasise how we should not necessarily blame Willy for his intoxication with a dream he never really could achieve, even if it did cause him to destroy everything around him, eventually himself.