An Analysis of Tragic Heroism of Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
This literary study will define the tragic heroism of Biff Loman in Arthur Miller’s play The Death of a Salesman. Biff is initially a victim of Willy’s continual harassment to make more money and find a better career. In this family unit, Biff must endure the unrealistic and fantasy-based elusions of his father in his fanatical pursuit of the American Dream. However, Biff soon learns of Willy’s extra-marital betrayal to his mother, which allows him to experience an epiphany against the self-deception of his father’s abusive fantasy world. Biffs’ tragic role in this family is found in the ability to accept reality and overcome the victim role imposed on him by his father. This tragic aspect of Biffs’ heroism defines a single voice of reason in a self-deceiving family unit, which defines his liberation from his father’s tyrannical behavior. In essence, Biffs’ tragic heroism will be examined by analyzing the journey towards self-realization in Arthur Miller’s The Death of a Salesman. The beginning of Miller’s play presents Willy Loman, a failed salesman that is continually putting pressure on his children to get better jobs and make more money. Willy’s pursuit of the American Dream exploits Biff and Happy as a type of retirement plan in this materialistic mindset: “You’ll retire me for life on seventy goddamn dollars a week?” (Miller 28). In this way, Willy views Biff as being weaker than
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
In Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, Willy Loman’s life seems to be slowly deteriorating. It is clear that Willy’s predicament is of his own doing, and that his own foolish pride and ignorance lead to his downfall. Willy’s self-destruction involved the uniting of several aspects of his life and his lack of grasping reality in each, consisting of, his relationship with his wife, his relationship and manner in which he brought up his children, Biff and Happy, and lastly his inability to productively earn a living and in doing so, failure to achieve his “American Dream”.
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Biff Loman silently questions his ability to fulfill his father’s wishes. His father, Willie Loman, holds high expectations for Biff’s future and constantly brags to others about how successful Biff will be. Out of respect for his father, Biff conforms to the path that Willie has planned for him. In the beginning, Willie lives vicariously through his son, Biff, who has no choice but to conform in order to preserve father-son respect. However, when the mutual respect that his father holds so dear dissolves, Biff’s concealed questions expand their influence from his thoughts to his actions as Biff becomes his own man.
In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, the author conveys the reader about how a person lives his life when he or she cannot live the “American Dream.” Willy Loman, the main character in the play is a confused and tragic character. He is a man who is struggling to hold onto what morality he has left in a changing society that no longer values the ideals he grew up to believe in. Even though the society he lives in can be blamed for much of his misfortune, he must also be the blame for his bad judgment, disloyalty and his foolish pride.
In the play “Death of a Salesman”, by Arthur Miller, the primary theme can be seen as a conflict between man and society. In which the ambition to achieve the “American Dream” controls the life of Willy Loman and the influences he has. When success is not reached, sends Willy’s mind on a mental ride.
“Death of a Salesman “ by Arthur Miller is interpreted differently by many people. In the critical review titled “Family Values in Death of a Salesman” by Steve R. Centola, he characterizes Death of the Salesman as am a modern tragedy. He draws more focus on the family core values and self-exert. In his analysis, he states that as the humans try to be competitive, they have dehumanized the American dream and have turned it into an urban nightmare. He claims that the author simply tells a story of a dying man who wants to justify the purpose of his life before he meets his death. He states that the consequences of his choices are a challenge he has to overcome to attain what he needs. Centola points out that through the realization of what Willy Loman values, it is easy to discover the reason for the conflict between him and Biff. He refers to Death of a Salesman as a tragedy of a human struggle that is rooted in the metaphysical and also based on the social and psychological concerns. He also asserts that by discussing the values of Willy Loman, readers will be able to identify the reasons behind Willy’s agenda to perform suicide.
In Death of a Salesman, a play written by Arthur Miller, Miller reflects the theme that every man needs to be honest with him self and act in accordance with his nature by displaying success and failure in different lights. Miller embodies the theme through characters in the play by explaining how their success and failures in being true to themselves help shapes their fates. Strongest evidence of Miller’s theme is reflected in the characteristics of Biff Loman, Benard, and Willy Loman. Through out the play, these three characters never give way to other’s influence and what other’s view of being successful is.
Willy’s biggest issue with his son is that he let him down by not being any more successful than him. He feels like Biff is failing on purpose just to make him look bad. Although, he has no decent job and is single; Biff has become disoriented about life. Earlier in the play Biff tells Happy, “I tell ya Hap, I don't know what the future is. I don't know - what I'm supposed to want” (Miller266). Biff once looked up to his father as a role model, but lost all faith in him once finding out that he was having an affair. Ever since he has rejected Willy’s commitment of being a husband and also a father. To add to his ruins are Willy’s ideas of how Biff should get ahead in life. Willy taught Biff that popularity was the right way to get to the top, rather than hard-work and dedication. Trying to live by his dad’s standards caused Biff to fail high school and become unable to put forth the effort to become
Willy Loman, the central character in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, is a man whose fall from the top of the capitalistic totem pole results in a resounding crash, both literally and metaphorically. As a man immersed in the memories of the past and controlled by his fears of the future, Willy Loman views himself as a victim of bad luck, bearing little blame for his interminable pitfalls. However, it was not an ill-fated destiny that drove Willy to devastate his own life as well as the lives of those he loved; it was his distorted set of values.
Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman follows protagonist Willy Loman in his search to better his and his family’s lives. Throughout Willy Loman’s career, his mind starts to wear down, causing predicaments between his wife, two sons and close friends. Willy’s descent into insanity is slowly but surely is taking its toll on him, his job and his family. They cannot understand why the man they have trusted for support all these years is suddenly losing his mind. Along with his slope into insanity, Willy’s actions become more aggressive and odd as the play goes on. Despite Willy and Biff’s “family feud”, his two sons Happy and Biff truly worry about their father’s transformation, Happy saying: “He just wants you to make good, that’s all. I
Biff Loman is the son of Linda and Willy Loman. He is both attractive and well liked, but has never been successful at any job he gets because he’s a compulisive theif. He’s never been able to meet his fathers high expections with any job he’s ever done.Biff has adabted most of his fathers traits but none of his own. “I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been” (Miller Act II: 104) Later in the play Biff begins to realize his own reality, that he is nobody just like his father, and that he was not meant to fufill the American Dream. No matter how hard Biff tires to get his father to see that he is ”nothing”, Willy refuses to believe it. Willy held out so much hope for him that he even kills himself so Biff could collect his life
Arthur Miller’s play Death of A Salesman demonstrates the life of a man facing troubles within himself and society. A tragedy is the imitation of an action that arouses fear and pity. This play could be considered a tragedy because it depicts the downfall of a perfect family and outlines the deterioration of a man’s life. A tragic hero, as defined by Aristotle, is someone who exemplifies great importance or heroic qualities; however, Arthur Miller views the tragic hero as someone who struggles heroically with life. Using Arthur Miller’s definition, it can be determined that Willy Loman is a tragic hero. Even though Willy Loman does not fit the classical view of a tragic hero, he is in fact a modern day tragic hero because of his error in judgment, a reversal of fortune, and his excessive pride.
The lives of the Loman’s from beginning to end seems troubling, the play is centered on trying to be successful or trying to be happy, and the sacrifice which must be made of one to achieve the other. The environment that these characters live in encourages them to pursue the American dream, which can be said to devalue happiness through the pursuit of material success. Death of A Salesman written by Arthur Miller has several themes that run through the play, one of the most obvious is the constant striving for success. Willy Loman put his family through endless torture because of his search for a successful life. Willy, Biff, and Happy are chasing the American dream instead of examining themselves
Miller amalgamates the archetypal tragic hero with the mundane American citizen. The result is the anti-hero, Willy Loman. He is a simple salesman who constantly aspires to become 'great'. Nevertheless, Willy has a waning career as a salesman and is an aging man who considers himself to be a failure but is incapable of consciously admitting it. As a result, the drama of the play lies not so much in
Death of a Salesman written by Arthur Miller is a play is about the Lomans, an average middle class dysfunctional family trying to live out the American Dream in the tough economic period of 1945 to 1950s. The lead character Willy Loman is a 63 year old traveling salesman who has lost his salary and working only on commission. Exhausted from his work, he also is disturbed by the fact that his well-liked 34 year old son Biff, hasn't lived up to his potential of being a successful businessman. Willy has trouble remembering things and at times unable to differentiate between the present and his memories. He often day dreams about the good times, regrets, and mistakes of his past. Willy's hope in the American Dream is lost when he realizes he's
The Importance of Biff's Role in "Death of a Salesman" The play "Death of a Salesman", by Arthur Miller, follows the life of Willy Loman, a self-deluded salesman who lives in utter denial, always seeking the "American Dream," and constantly falling grossly short of his mark. The member's of his immediate family, Linda, his wife, and his two sons, Biff and Happy, support his role. Of these supportive figures, Biff's character holds the most importance, as Biff lies at the center of Willy's internal conflicts and dreams , and Biff is the only one in the play who seems to achieve any growth. Biff's role is essential to the play because he generates the focus of Willy's conflict for the larger part, his own