The Role Of Charley In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman

Decent Essays
“People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they’re all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error” (Florence King). The Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller is a play; set in the late 1940’s, surrounding the tormenting life of the salesman, Willy Loman, who faces disappointment, abandonment and the anticipation of the American Dream. His only real friend is Charley, who owns a successful business and has a successful son. Their friendship reveals important traits of each other vital to major plot points in the play. In the Death of a Salesman, Charley’s realistic portrayal highlights Willy’s delusions. Charley’s role emphasizes Willy’s …show more content…
In contrast to Willy, Charley is a successful business owner who earned his way to top by working hard and dealing with what reality threw at him. Charley is a minor character in the play; however, he offers great insight into Willy’s true self. One prominent trait Charley helps bring to the surface is Willy envious nature. While Willy is spilling out his insecurities to Linda, he mentions that, “[Charley is] a man of few words, and they respect him” (Miller 24). Charley is the epitome of someone who does not let his success, or in Willy’s case, delusional success, get to his head. Though, Willy states that Charley is not “well-liked”, it is clear that Willy hates the fact that Charley defies his twisted image of success. Unlike Willy, Charley is shows that he is stable, both financially and mentally, that he offers his friend a job with higher pay:
You want a job?
I got a job, I told you that. [After a slight pause] What the hell are you offering me a job for?
Don’t get insulted. (Miller 29)
Willy’s built up pride of his false success results in his inability to accept help generous and kind gestures from Charley and other’s around him. Charley is a man who is self assured and doesn’t need others’ approval; he is honest and practical in the world of Willy Loman’s
…show more content…
Willy’s father abandoning him at a young age makes him want to create the perfect family of the American Dream and somehow rebuild his broken family in his childhood. Willy’s delusion of perfection makes him a cowardly father. Even though this play is set in the forty’s, Willy teaches his favoured son, Biff, what he knows about girls: “Just wanna be careful with those girls, Biff, that’s all. Don’t make any promises. No promises of any kind. Because a girl, y’know, they always believe what you tell’em, and you’re very young, Biff, you’re too young to be talking seriously to girls” (Miller 16). As he is attempting to be a better father than his father, he ends up being just as bad because he continually teaches both Biff and Happy terrible morals on how to teach treat women, and also others. Another instance where Willy’s pride gets in the way of his good intentions, is when he tells Biff who he is and that he is superior to others: “I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman” (Miller 105). Though Willy is trying to pick up Biff from thinking he and Willy are invaluable, which is ironic because their surnames split into ‘Lo[w] Man’, Willy comes across egotistic and arrogant. In addition, Willy made Happy especially, into a copy of himself. Throughout the play, Happy seeks attention and approval from others: “I’m losing weight, you notice, Pop?”

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