Death Of A Salesman – Character Of Ben

Published: 2020-06-16 22:51:05
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The character of Ben in Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman functions towards the development of his main character, Willy. Miller uses him as the guiding light for Willie’s character; he provides the backbone for what Willy strives for throughout life. Ben functions as Willies idol, and through exploration into which Ben is, we see who Willy is. By viewing Ben’s morals, and actions, we are able to see what Willy himself wishes for and believes in. By allowing for our understanding of who Willy is, Ben is also used to contribute to our understanding of the theme of the novel, that you can’t allow yourself to get lost in the ?American dream.? Ben appears but three times throughout, first in a flashback, second in a quasi-flashback where Willy has inserted him into a scenario that actually happened, and finally in a complete hallucination. Through the comparison and understanding of each of these occurrences, we are able to gain a vast wealth of knowledge of who Willy Loman actually was. For this is Miller’s purpose for Ben in this novel, as a device to allow us to understand what is actually going on inside Willy Loman’s head.
The first time Ben appears is in a flashback within Willies mind. Miller uses this flashback to interrupt the action of Willies feeling inadequate about his present situation. Willy has returned home from a selling trip, unable to concentrate, and unable to keep his mind in the present. Ben appears as an out for Willy from this situation, a way for him to forget about his present condition and feelings. The flashback with Ben provides us with a large amount of information about himself, and thus about Willy. We learn first that Ben is a lot wealthier then Willy, and that while they are brothers, they did not grow up together. The first main thing we find out is that Willy quite idolizes him, although they have never been close ?Ben! I’ve been waiting for you so long! What’s the answer? How did you do it?? Obviously, Ben has achieved what Willy wishes for. We find out that Ben has made a fortune by ?walking into Africa.? He has prospered by essentially using other people for what they can give him. ?When I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. And by god he was rich.? We learn a lot about the character of Willy, because he completely believes that this is an excellent way to make money. He obviously does not believe that one need put in hard work to achieve success, and that in fact preferably this is the way to go. The other main thing that Ben shows us occurs during his fight with Biff. He says, ?Never fight fair with a stranger.? This shows us his morals and values, that you cannot trust people, and that you should always take advantage of people you don’t know. This demonstrates the essence of the character Ben, that you should take advantage of which you can and use it for your own good in any way possible. Since Willy believes that Ben is a good example of a success, he essentially believes in what he says, and believes that his boys should follow this. We have prior evidence that Willy does believe that you should take advantage of people when he tells Biff not to worry about his math, that Bernard will let him cheat off him. This flashback also provides more then just basic character traits. It reinforces our view of Willy as someone who tends to stretch the truth. He has prior told us that Ben pleaded with him to go to Alaska with him, yet we soon see that this is not at all the case, in fact rather the opposite. The second quasi-flashback has Ben placed into a scene in Willies mind, when he was never there. Miller leads us to believe before the original flashback that Ben actually only came just once, as evidenced in Charlie’s line ?You never heard from him again, heh? Since that time?? However, suddenly he is appearing in another

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