Death Of Salesman By Miller

Thesis: In Arthur Millerís, Death of a Salesman, the character of Ben is used
as a catalyst to fuel the development of the main character, Willy. The
character of Ben in Arthur Millerís, Death Of A Salesman, functions as a
catalyst to fuel the development of his main character, Willy. Miller uses Ben
as an idealistic figure for Willy. Ben is the figure that Willy strives to be
like throughout the story. By exploring Benís character, we develop a better
understanding of Willyís character. We learn Willyís personality and
character by looking at Benís actions and beliefs. Benís personal morals
become Willyís rules of life. Throughout the story, Willy strives to be like
his brother. Benís character allows us understand the importance of living
oneís life by their own rules. His character helps us to understand that we
must play with the hand we are dealt. Life is too short to be playing someone
elseís hand. The contrast between Ben and Willyís characters allows the
reader to recognize the importance of letting go of the past and not dwelling on
mistakes made or regrets. Willy is so eat up with his brotherís success and
the idea of living his brotherís life, that he loses control over his own life
and reality. Ben appears but three times throughout the story, 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 a comparison and understanding of each of these occurrences, we are able
to gain vast knowledge of who Willy Loman actually is. These flashbacks and
hallucinations show how Benís character is used as a device to Taylor 2 allow
us to understand what is actually going on inside Willy Lomanís head. The
first time Ben appears is in a flashback within Willyís mind. This flashback
is used as an interruption of Willyís feelings of inadequacy 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 a scapegoat for Willy
from his situation, a way for him to forget about his present condition and
feelings. This 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. We
also learn through the flashback that Willy idolizes Ben, though they have never
been close. "Ben! Iíve been waiting for you so long! Whatís the answer?

How did you do it?(Miller 1938)." 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(1939)." 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 a person has to put in a
lot of hard work to achieve success, and that in fact Benís way is the way to
go. The flashback also illustrates a fight between Ben and Biff. Ben says,

"Never fight fair with a stranger(1939)." This shows us his morals and
values, that you cannot trust people, and that you should always take Taylor 3
advantage of people you donít know. This also demonstrates the essence of

Benís character. He believes 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
believes you should take advantage of people when he tells Biff not to worry
about his math, that Bernard will let him cheat off of him. This flashback
provides more then just basic character traits. It reinforces our view of Willy
as someone who tends to stretch the truth. At first we are told that Ben pleaded
with Willy 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 Willyís mind, when he was never actually there. Miller leads
us to