The Importance of Biff in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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The Importance of Biff in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller


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 conflict is
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"Be liked and you will never want," says Willy(1363). The amount of aggravation generated by Biff’s lack of motivation and desire to be "successful" makes Biff’s role extremely important.

The play also spends quite a bit of time focusing on Biff’s own conflict, which is basically his father. In his youth, he shared his father’s great aspirations for himself. He was captain of the football team, and had plans for college and then a career in business afterwards. Biff was absolutely obsessed with pleasing his father, who was flawless in his eyes. All of this changed, however, when Biff found his father in a Boston hotel room with another woman. After that, Biff "laid down and died like a hammer hit him "(1392). Biff had never dreamed for himself, being concerned only with fulfilling his father’s wishes. When Biff realized that Willy was not the great man that he thought he was, his dreams became nothing to him, as had his father. And so, Biff became a drifter, living only on a day to day basis. Lastly, Biff is the only character who achieves any real growth in the play.

Throughout the play Linda has remained static, always steadfastly supporting Willy, and believing he is incapable of flaw. At Willy’s funeral, Happy…