Time Bending

Time Bending

This piece was written by junior Lizzie Berry. 

In AP Language and Composition, we read a play called Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. In this play, he challenges not only our idea of time, but also our idea of reality. Miller wrote the play around a thoroughly thought out and complex topic called time bending. The concept of bending time is one that confuses many people. But this is due to our unchallenged way of thinking about time.

Maybe time doesn’t have such a definitive definition. Most people would look at time as a regimented thing that always happens, and that particular parts of time only occur once. For instance: 10:35am EST on July 5, 1888 only happened once, and will never happen again. But time is a man-made thing, so who can prove that 60 seconds are in a minute, because what truly is a minute or a second? Just because the general population accepts that 60 seconds are in a minute, does not mean that my minute cannot consist of 7,483 hours or giblets or 1/1000 of how long it takes my mom to make cookies for that matter.

The bending of time is only a hard concept to grasp because we’ve been taught to believe that it is something concrete, inevitable, and unchangeable in our lives. We use time to organize our lives into years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, etc.  Miller’s bending of time seems unrealistic to readers when they first realize his intentions for the play, because it is a concept that many people would not call their reality.

Time bending can be an easy theory to understand if one allows it to become a possible reality. In the play, Willy’s reality takes place in the bending of time. Past and present and future can all coexist. The definitions of past, present, future remain the same, but then again they are relative. Miller uses events that have occurred in the main character’s past, events that are taking place in the present, and events that have yet to occur, and warps them all to occur in the same moment. When referencing the past, people automatically jump to the conclusion that it’s a flashback, but Willy (the main character) also experiences his future while still in the present.

Willy sees figures walk through walls. Willy is the only character who experiences this, largely because these figures do not belong in the present time. They are only important to him, and they only exist within his reality. The character’s reality is what Arthur Miller makes it. This begs the question: what is reality?

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