Shortcomings In Death Of A Salesman By Arthur Miller

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In the play Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller utilize characters as a way of highlighting the features of the main character, Willy. Charley, a minor character in the play, is used as a crucial foil to emphasize Willy’s failure as a father and a salesman. It is Willy’s shortcomings that highlight the profound effect that humans and society itself have on individuals.
Charley and Willy are rivals in the business world with Charley being the more successful of the two. According to Chester E. Eisinger, “Charley represents [the] ideal form” of the business-success dream. He frequently donates money to Willy so he and his family can sustain themselves. At one point, Charley offers Willy a “place at the office.” Charley takes on a more tender
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He states that “nobody dast blame this man” because he was trying to achieve what he thought were his dreams. Such actions demonstrate the kind and caring character that Charley assumes and espouses. On the other hand, the main character of the play foolishly believes that a dominant and masculine personality is the most integral part of success in the business world. Being “well liked” is Willy’s perceived key to accomplishment and, as a result, no consistent form of humility is shown towards any character. Examples can be found in the way that he scolds Linda for interrupting him but proceeds to interrupt others throughout the plot. During his encounter with Howard, Willy “slams his hand on the desk” and demands that his conditions of employment be met. Such actions shape how others perceive him and act towards him; Howard fires him, while Linda continuously tries to appease him. When the two characters …show more content…
It only shows the influence that these two characters hold on their children. Charley is never shown to hold his standard of success to his son; Bernard is a studious child and does not rely on an overblown personality to get by in school. The outcome is Bernard’s success as a lawyer after his education. Charley’s career differs from Bernard’s career and Charley is able to accept this fact; Charley provides Bernard with his unconditional love. Again, Willy is the opposite in this regard; during the flashbacks of Willy’s encounters with Biff and Happy, he has them “blown so full of hot air” that they replace their own aspirations with Willy’s desires. This indoctrination makes Happy want status and position in a job he hates and convinces Biff that his own aspirations are worthless. Fred Ribkoff explains that Biff views Will “as a god to him” before discovering the affair. Even after uncovering the affair, the seeds of Willy’s version of success are planted in Biff’s mind. Biff tells his brother about his struggle to find meaning in his life and how spring’s arrival in Texas makes him think to himself “what the hell am I doing, playing around with horses.” He wishes to work outdoors but his father’s teachings hold him to the standards of the business dream. Willy’s inability to be the father that Charley is can be

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