Roles and Analysis of All Character in Death of a Salesman

Roles and Analysis of All Character in Death of a Salesman

Character Analysis and Role of
Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman

Willy Loman

Despite his desperate searching through his past, Willy does not achieve the self realization or self- knowledge typical of the tragic hero. The quasi- resolution that his suicide offers him represents only a .partial discovery of the truth. While he achieves a professional understanding of himself and thenfundamental nature of the sales profession, Willy fails to realize his personal failure and betrayal of his soul and family through the meticulously constructed artifice of his life. He cannot grasp the true personal, emotional, spiritual understanding of himself as a literal “loman” or “low man.” Willy is too driven by his own “willy”-ness or perverse “willfulness” to recognize the slanted reality that his desperate mind has forged. Still, many critics, focusing on Willy’s entrenchment in a quagmire of lies, delusions, and self-deceptions, ignore the significant accomplishment
of his partial self-realization. Willy’s failure to recognize the anguished love offered to him by his family is crucial to the climax of his torturous day, and the play presents this incapacity as the realntragedy. Despite this failure, Willy makes the most extreme sacrifice in his attempt to leave an inheritance that will allow Biff to fulfill the American Dream. Ben’s final mantra—“The jungle is dark, but full of diamonds”—turns Willy’s suicide into a metaphorical moral struggle, a final skewed ambition to realize his full commercial and material capacity. His final act, according to Ben, is “not like an appointment at all” but like a “diamond . . . rough and hard to the touch.” In the absence of any real degree of self-knowledge or truth, Willy is able to achieve a tangible result. In some respect, Willy does experience a sort of revelation, as he finally comes to understand that the product he sells is himself. Through the imaginary advice of Ben, Willy ends up fully believing his earlier assertion to Charley that “after all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.”

Character Analysis and Role of
Linda in Death of a Salesman


is Willy’s doting wife. She refuses to see through her husband’s lies. This is a woman on a mission: protect Willy’s emotions and dreams. Part of her nature is the result of naïveté; Linda doesn’t know the full picture here, from Willy’s finances to his job to his mistress. This cluelessness is partly why Linda defendsnher husband’s behavior even when he has lashed out at he

No one can argue—she’s one loyal chick. Like her husband, Linda equates happiness and freedom with material wealth. She accepts the American ideal that success is possible for anyone. Nevertheless, Linda shows substantially more preoccupation than her husband with talent, dedication, and basic ethics that reach beyond simply being well-liked. Unlike Willy, she expresses concern over Biff’s poor math performance, his growing aggression, and his tendency to steal everything that will fit in his pocket and even some things that don’t. Linda’s utter and blind devotion to her husband makes it hard for her to understand why he killed himself—and why no one showed up to his funeral. Her ironic statement “we’re free” just reminds us that Linda is still very, very clueless.

Character Analysis and Role of
Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman

Biff Loman

Unlike Willy and Happy , Biff feels compelled to seek the truth about himself. While his father and brother are unable to accept the miserable reality of their respective lives, Biff acknowledges his failure and eventually manages to confront it. Even the difference between his name and theirs reflects this polarity: whereas Willy and Happy willfully and happily delude themselves, Biff bristles stiffly at self-deception. Biff’s discovery that Willy has a mistress strips him of his faith in Willy and Willy’s ambitions for him. Consequently, Willy sees Biff as an underachiever, while Biff sees himself as trapped in Willy’s grandiose fantasies. After his epiphany in Bill Oliver’s office, Biff determines to break through the lies surrounding the Loman family in order to come to realistic terms with his own life. Intent on revealing the simple and humble truth behind Willy’s fantasy, Biff longs for the territory (the symbolically free West) obscured by his father’s blind faith in a skewed, materialist version of the American Dream. Biff’s identity crisis is a function of his and his father’s disillusionment, which, in order to reclaim his identity, he must expose.

Character Analysis and Role of
Happy in Death of a Salesman


might as well be Willy Jr., because this apple
hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
Though he is relatively successful in his job, he has his dad’s totally unrealistic self-confidence and his grand dreams about getting rich quick. Like Biff, but to a lesser extent, Happy has suffered from his father’s expectations. Mostly, though, his father doesn’t pay that much attention to him. Willy was always a bigger fan of Biff. Happy, maybe because he always felt second-best, has more of a desire to please his father. Despite his respectable accomplishments in business and the many, many notches on his bedpost, Happy is extremely lonely. Happy is competitive and ambitious, but these feelings are misdirected. Unable to compete on his own terms in the business world, Happy blindly pursues women— like his friends’ girlfriends—purely for the sake of doing so. Looks like he’s taken his sense of competition to the realm of sex. Of course, this, much like the world of business, fails to satisfy him. Most disturbing for Happy is the fact that he can’t figure out why all this isn’t working. He’s followed the rules, done all the right things, yet Happy just isn’t happy. His name highlights the irony of his predicament. If you consider the fact that parents name their children, you could say that Willy foolishly bestowed the nickname on his son in yet another display of misguidance and delusion. Nice. Just as the saddest part of Willy’s suicide is his continued delusion, the saddest part of Happy’s ending is his own persistent misbelief. Still driven by what he feels he should want (money, a wife), he sticks to Willy’s foolish dreams to the bitter end.

Character Analysis and Role of
Charley in Death of a Salesman


A long-time acquaintance of the Lomans. Charley supplies Willy with a weekly loan once Willy is put on straight commission, and he repeatedly offers him a job. Charlie is a true friend to Willy, even though Willy is jealous of him. Charley appears in Willy’s memories, as well as in the actions of the present.

Character Analysis and Role of
Bernard in Death of a Salesman


Charley’s son. He provided Biff with answers while they were in high school and attempted to help Biff study so that he would graduate, even though Willy and Biff would criticize him. He is a successful lawyer. Bernard appears in Willy’s memories, as well as in the present.

Character Analysis and Role of
Ben in Death of a Salesman


– Willy’s wealthy older brother. Ben has recently died and appears only in Willy’s “daydreams.” Willy regards Ben as a symbol of the success that he so desperately craves for himself and his sons.

Character Analysis and Role of
The Woman in Death of a Salesman

The Woman

Willy’s mistress when Happy and Biff were in high school. The Woman’s attention and admiration boost Willy’s fragile ego. When Biff catches Willy in his hotel room with The Woman, he loses faith in his father, and his dream of passing math and going to college dies.

Character Analysis and Role of
Howard Wagner in Death of a Salesman

Howard Wagner

Willy’s boss. Howard inherited the company from his father, whom Willy regarded as “a masterful man” and “a prince.” Though much younger than Willy, Howard treats Willy with condescensionband eventually fires him, despite Willy’s wounded assertions that he named Howard at his birth.

Character Analysis and Role of
Stanley in Death of a Salesman


– A waiter at Frank’s Chop House. Stanley and Happy seem to be friends, or at least acquaintances, and they banter about and ogle Miss Forsythe together before Biff and Willy arrive at the restaurant.

Character Analysis and Role of
Miss Forsythe and Letta in Death of a Salesman

Miss Forsythe and Letta

Two young women whom Happy and Biff meet at Frank’s Chop House. It seems likely that Miss Forsythe and Letta are prostitutes, judging from Happy’s repeated comments about their moral character and the fact that they are “on call.”

Character Analysis and Role of
Jenny in Death of a Salesman


– Charley’s secretary.

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