Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis of Willy

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Death of a Salesman

As a mentally unstable man, Willy has a very complex relationship with the people around him, which come a great deal from his own guilt and insecurity. His relationship with three of the characters strongly stands out from the others. These characters are his oldest son Biff, his only friend and neighbor Charley, and Biff’s childhood friend and Charley’s son Bernard. His relationship with Biff is tainted by the fact that Biff could never live up to his father’s expectations, which they both feel guilty for. Charley and Biff have problems because Willy is jealous and extremely stubborn, and refuses to take his generous help. And lastly, Willy has a bitter relationship towards Bernard because he is jealous that Biff is not as successful as him, when everyone thought the world of Biff in high school, unlike Bernard. He does not understand why Bernard became successful and always thought of him as inferior to Biff. These relationships help build up to the climax of Will’s mental downfall, ultimately leading to his death.

Whether he or Willy is really responsible for lack of success and motivation in life, it has taken a large toll on their relationship. Willy’s whole life he had worked hard for what he thought would be the proudest career he could have, and he wanted the same accomplishments for his son. And during Biff’s senior year, everyone believed that he would make it just spectacularly in the world. But as soon as he learned that his father, whom he looked up to, was a liar and an adulterer, he lost all drive to be what his father thought of a successful. He no longer wanted to take the math class that would have put him in the University of Virginia, and being defensive, Willy knew that he was to blame. He became angry and said “What are you trying to do blame it on me? If a boy lays down it’s my fault?”(73) This quote directly shows the guilt that he feels for taking his son’s drive for life away, and Biff is also bitter at how...
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