Theses Essay

This essay has a total of 1656 words and 6 pages.


death of a salesman
By: mr. lemons

Biff the Hero? In Arthur Miller's, dramatic play, Death of a Salesman the Loman family
presents its self as being the perfect nuclear family as opposed to their dysfunctional
nature. Even though Miller portrays Willy Loman as the main character of the story, his
lack of praise worthy traits make it necessary for another to be the hero. This other
character comes in the form of Willy's son, Biff Loman, who may not succeed in regards to
Willy's dreams, but still deserves the honor of being called the hero of the play. Biff
shows qualities describing a hero because he grows up with false ideals but later rejects
them searching for his true identity. To analyze Biff Loman the most important aspect
comes from his change in self-realization that represents his dynamic nature. This dynamic
nature shows with his interaction in regards to other characters and with respects to
underlying themes in the play. Even though many people have influenced Biff over his life,
only his family has left a significant impact on it. Their presence and importance in his
life make it necessary to view the motivating aspects of his interaction with them,
whether it is positive or negative. The first character that we must analyze comes in the
form of the overbearing but idolized father, who sets the foundation for Biff's beliefs
and way of life. Many different aspects of this relationship can be portrayed in reference
to Biff's ultimate and final realization at the end of the play. In Biff's youth, he
accepts and adores everything that pertains to Willy because that is the nature of a small
child. Even though we later realize the err in Willy's ideology, his initial instincts to
teach his son success held no faults. Willy's hopes and goals were pure (Onger 154). On
the other hand, Willy's excessive need to promote vanity and unfulfilling popularity, sets
the stage for Biff's eventual letdown. Willy provides Biff with an ego because of the high
praise given to Biff that makes him conceited. Such great praise prompts Biff's pride of
himself and his family, which leads Biff to feel contentment and fulfillment in his
younger years before his dreams come to an end. But, his flaw comes in the form of hubris
or arrogance that goes hand in hand with his father's belief in his own greatness. Biff so
readily believes his father's assumptions that he will not work at any medial task since
he is so "well liked". Biff states, "I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of
hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody!"(Miller 105). Like any son, Biff
praised, respected, and loved his father. Biff's problem comes with his taking that love
and moving it to a next level, idealizing. By holding his father in such high regards Biff
set him upon a pedestal that no mere mortal could live up to. Just like any man, Willy had
his faults, and leading his son on with exaggerations portrays one of these faults. Biff's
perception of his father as an almost immaculate figure leaves him exposed to discover the
painful truth. In this discovery, a dejected and emotionally vulnerable Biff goes to seek
solace from his father only to have his very foundation rattled by seeing him with another
woman. This presents itself as both positive and negative in regards to Biff. It acts as a
turning point in Biff's life and sets him on the course of self discovery. This course
also brings Biff more pain and anguish than he has ever felt because for the first time he
does not have a father to turn towards. This previous action indicates Biff's lack of
having a course on life. Up until the end of the book, Biff can be described as a
thirty-four year old child because he has no direction or individualistic beliefs. He had
tried to forsake his father's ideologies but they were instilled so deeply that he could
not just forget about them. However, after Willy's death, Biff finally realizes "He
[Willy] had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong" (Miller 111). With this realization of
Willy's fault in character and goals, Biff no longer abides by Willy's beliefs. So Willy's
dreams and hopes die with him, at least in relation to Biff. He has finally grown up to
view the world in a more realistic manner and has achieved a self-identity. "Biff declares
with joy of a newly made discovery : ‘I am not the leader of men….I am just what I am,
that's all…'"(Sharma 79). Linda's role in Biff's life does not possess as much
importance as Willy's role. She represents an indirect influence on the father-son
conflict and on Biff's quest to break the bonds of his father's beliefs. Although, she
does instill a strong family bond in both her sons. "Biff might have found himself as a
farmer but some family bond always brings him back, to quarrel with his father and leave
again" (Boruch 548). She also guides her son's respect of Willy. The problem comes from
her nature of allowing and accepting everything that Willy presents, whether it be true or
false. She hinders Biff's ability to confront his father for her sake. Ironically the only
mood not felt by Happy comes in the form of happiness. From this simple intuition, much
can be derived about the nature of Happy and how he relates to Biff. Happy personifies the
ideologies belonging to Willy and his lack of success prove to Biff the error in that
mindset. Happy's dejected nature does not allow for him to ever succeed in life and it
just compounds his life into a series of lies and exaggerations, characteristic of Willy's
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