English Lit: Willy Loman Act 1

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Grace Goodwin
Death of a salesman
What do we learn about Willy through Ben?
"Uncle Ben carrying a valise and an umbrella"- shows he is a
businessman like his brother and it suggests that the trade runs in the
family, this shows why Willy tries to push his sons into the `ideal'
career
He is Willy Loman's brother, the idealized memory of that brother, and
an aspect of Willy's own personality, and these distinct functions are
sometimes simultaneous.
Ben is everything Willy is not and hopes to be: successful, bold, "well
liked." Ben only appears in Willy's imaginative ramblings. It shows
Willys insecurities.
Ben was a rich man who made it big in the diamond mines of Africa.
Willy once was given the chance to become partners with Ben, but
refused and instead chooses the life that he currently lives.
Willy "Why didn't I go to Alaska with my brother...he begged me to
go."- Willy delusional
Willy cares what Ben thinks "No Ben, I don't want you to think....It's
Brooklyn I know, But we hunt too."
Ben: `I have many enterprises William, and I have never kept books'
Ben personifies the burden of Willy's expectations in regards to both
material success and the proper role of a father.
"Business is bad...but not for me of course"- Tries to impress his
brother
Willy: `I want my boys to hear. I want them to know what kind of stock
they come from'- Willy feels that he himself cannot be a role model for
his sons
Ben: `Never fight fair with a stranger son. You'll never get out of the
jungle that way." ­ Capitalist context, success is everything and you
should push others down to make it.
Appearing in the middle of Willy and Charley's card game, Ben's first
words are, "I only have a few minutes"- shows he Is a busy man, time
seems to be precious for him. He makes his departure shortly after
announcing, "I'll be late for my train". During his second appearance, he
declares, "I haven't much time" and "I've got to go".
What do we learn about Willy through Charley?
Charley serves as a force of reason throughout the play, he functions as a
sort of poetic prophet or sage. Miller portrays Charley as ambiguously
gendered or effeminate.
Charley's prognosis of the situation is logical, grounded firmly in
practical reasoned analysis. He recognizes Willy's financial failure, and
the job offer that he extends to Willy constitutes a commonsense
solution. Though he is not terribly fond of Willy, Charley understands
his plight and shields him from blame.
He becomes Willy's sole financial support; "loaning" him fifty dollars a
week knowing all the while that his money will never be repaid.

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Although Willy claims that Charley is a man who is "liked, but not
well-liked," he owns his own business and is respected and admired,
which are things that Willy is not.…read more

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