Characterization in Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller

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    Jan 26, 2013
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Willy is the main character of the play and its tragic hero. He is in his early sixties and he goes increasingly insane throughout the play. Willy tries to persuade himself and others that he and his sons are successful. He is unable to live up to his own to his own expectations and expectations of his rich brother. Ben who expects Willy to do much more with his life. Willy is a failure who is living in the past. Linda is Willy`s wife and the boy`s mother. Throughout the play she helps Willy to live in his fantasy world. She protects him from cruel reality of their lives. It is too hard for her to get to the root of his problems.

Biff is Willy`s favorite son. He is 34 and he has gone from job to job, never finding any lasting happiness or success. He is good-looking and he used to be very popular at high school. He was supposed to graduate and the math teacher flunked him. He didn`t go to summer school. From the age of 17 nothing good happened to him. This displeases his father who never found any success and who wants to place the burden of success on Biff`s shoulders. Happy is the younger brother of Biff. He is not able to find success or happiness. Happy is tall, handsome and seems more content than Biff. Sexuality is like a visible color on him. After living in the shadow of his brother throughout his childhood, Happy tries to mask his lack of confidence by surrounding himself with women and pretending that all is well.

After his father dies, he tries to carry on his unrealistic notion of success. Biff also wears mask. He dreams about success, he changes job, but he is never satisfied. Finally, his mask is dropped. He sees that he must find his dreams within himself. He decides not to live out the dreams of his father. He sees that life, liberty and happiness are not always the equivalent of wealth, power and asset. Biff is on the verge of discovering the truth about himself. Biff realized that his father had wrong dreams and that Willy immersed himself in nothing but illusions. He realized that he was not a leader of men and that he would never be successful. Biff decided to give up dreaming about success and to work for a buck an hour. He said: “I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke.” He became calmer and more confident.

The characters in the play talk about everyday occurrences that happen in everyday lives. The dialogue used in the play is everyday language. The author uses banal dialogue to bring up character interactions that speak of the past, present and future of the theme. The dialogues are endless, convoluted discussions, wonderments, arguments, encouragement.




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