Willy’s Foil in Death of a Salesman

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  • Topic: Novel, Life, Businesspeople
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  • Published : January 2, 2013
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In the Novel Death of a Salesman, the Character Willy has a character that foils him in the story. This character is his brother Ben. By definition a foil, in the literary sense of the word, is a person that gives contrast to another person. In this case Ben is the perfect foil for Willy. Willy represents the common man. He feels that he must be a good provider for his family. Willy also fights for his sons’ approval. He wants to see himself as a great salesman and a great provider. The problem he faces is that he doesn't have faith in himself. Weakness and self-doubt surround his life. Ben is wealthy, bold and ruthless business man. He is the essence of a successful American. Ben is the personification of the American Dream. In the novel Ben acts as Willy's mentor. Willy hopes his boys will be like Ben. He is one of the few people in the novel who find a multitude success without doing much work. The two characters major differently in a similar career of business. Ben was able to go out and make a fortune while Willy stayed back to do his own work. His is a turning point in Willy’s life. This point unfortunately proved to be the starting point for his fall to failure. These characters, while choosing similar career paths, went down different roads in life through the career path. Through Ben’s success and Willy’s failure, it is clear to see how Ben is a foil character for Willy.

In the Novel death of a salesman, Willy’s career and life takes a downward once he decides not to follow his brother Ben to Alaska. Willy isn’t as good as a salesman as he thinks he is. He doesn’t make any sales when he goes out to work. He doesn’t make any money to help support his family. His failures at work make him feel that he isn’t good enough in his son’s eyes. He feels that if he doesn’t bring home any money that his son’s won’t think of him as the leader of the family, but instead a loser. In order to keep this from happening, he feels that borrowing money, that he can’t pay...
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