Father-Son Relationships in Death of a Salesman by Brian Dunning on Prezi
and find homework help for other Death of a Salesman questions at eNotes. Willy has a tense and difficult relationship with his elder son Biff. Willy seems to feel that Biff has failed on purpose, just to spite his father: 'You don't want . Themes · Death of a Salesman Characters · Death of a Salesman Analysis · Death of a. Willy has a different relationship with each of his sons. With Biff, Willy is hopeful and adoring, yet also defensive, judgemental and combative. With Happy, Willy. Charley in Death of a Salesman: Character Analysis . The most significant father-son relationship in the play is the one between Willy and Biff.
In this paper, an attempt has been made t o study these three stages in details and examine the intricacies of the relationship of Willy Loman with his two sons Biff and Happy. Arthur Miller was a prolific American dramatist whose literary career spans over a period of 60 years. Miller's works and his writing career show a profound influence of the great depression and the Second World War, on 2 him.
Through his various plays he depicts the harmful effects of these historical incidents on the American man, his values, and his ideology. The pursuit of the 'American Dream' and the consequent failure is also an important theme in his plays. The commercialis ation and cut-throat competition to become the most successful man brought demise in the whole value-system of the Americans. It seemed harder to hold on the family as a 'whole.
The disintegration of the American families was becoming a common trend. Miller took all these issues as the major concerns in his plays. Mostly he dealt with industrial and commercial society on one hand and family on the other. While dealing with the theme of family, Miller pa id special emphasis on the Father-Son relationship in the family. However, Death of a Salesman is one of the best specimens of this theme. The play is a masterpiece and depicts the last day in the life of the protagonist Willy Loman- a salesman.
Willy Loman, an average-earning American, worked throughout his life to achieve the 'Americ an Dream' the dream of becoming successful and popular. However, he suffers because he had a flawed value-system. He thought that whoever is well -liked among his peers and has an overall impressive personality can easily succeed in life.
Moreover, he thinks that 'salesmanship' is the best profession through which one can gain respect, affection, popularity and success. But late in life he realises his mistakes as he doesn't turn into a successful man.
The tension arises when he starts transferring these m isconceptions and false ideals in his two sons- Biff and Happy. From their very childhood, Willy makes a false impression on his sons. He makes them believe that their father is a very famous and successful salesman; that people love him wherever he goes; that he is an indispensable employee of his employers; that he is a very worthy man.
Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man 3 who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. You take me, for instance. I never have to wait in line to see a buyer.
Miller The growth of the father-son relationship in this play can be divided into three stages. The first stage is the childhood stage of Biff and Happy. From this very stage Biff had been, undoubtedly, Willy's favourite.
Happy, on the other hand, always tried to grab his father's attention but mostly he played the role of an assistant to his elder brother. The writer also explores the relationship of Biff and Willy more than Happy and Biff.
Willy's special attention was always towards Biff. The reason being, Biff was a good sportsman of his school and he was very popular among the students an d teachers. This made Willy believe that Biff would very easily succeed in life as he is efficient in making good impression upon others. Willy himself wasn't a very successful man, so he started harbouring his dreams in his sons that they would achieve what he couldn't.
The second reason for Willy's special love for Biff was that Biff was almost an alter ego of his father.
Both Willy and Biff had a love for manual labour- works like making a stoop in front of the house, or mending the wall, ceiling and oth er parts of the house. Both loved the outdoor field work surrounded by natural sceneries and fresh air. They both felt a kind of suffocation in the modern urbanised city life and weren't able to enjoy it properly. However, Willy never realised his actual talents and suffered failure because of plunging himself into a wrong profession.
He was not a man for the business -world but still in order to earn fame he was trying to make himself what he was not meant to be.
Father-Son Relationship In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman - PDF
During the childhood stage the love and und erstanding between the father and the son was the most. The love and affection was transmitted equally from both sides. Biff and Happy used to idealize their father. Willy was Biff s 'hero' and the centre of his life. He trusted his father a lot and truly believed in his success.
But the seeds of the future tension and shortcomings were also sown in this very stage. Willy brought up his sons on 4 wrong ideals and false pride.
Father-Son Relationship In Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman
He always ignored their mistakes and rather himself tried to cover them. When Biff had stolen a basketball from the locker-room of the coach, Willy ignored his mistake and passed the incident as a joke. When Bernard warned Willy that Biff would fail in the exams, Willy suggested Bernard to give the answers to Biff during the exams. Moreo ver he told Biff that in future it is for sure that Biff would be five times ahead of Bernard.
The reason being, simply, that Bernard didn't have an impressive personality. Bernard can get the best marks in school, y'understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y'understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him.
That's why I thank Almighty God you're both built like Adonises. Miller 25 The second stage of their relationship began when both Biff and Happy grew up and stepped out of their school premises and entered the competitive and practical American World, where each was trying to become successful and carve out a space for himself.
Just at the beginning of this stage something happened that changed the father-son relationship completely. As it has been mentioned earlier also, Happy's relationship with Willy is presented on a secondary level. The actual father -son relationship that is in limelight, in the play, is Willy and Biff's relationship.
Therefore this incident is also related to Willy and Biff. Biff once caught his father, red -handed, cheating on his mother while on a business -trip to Boston.Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman A Tragic Hero
This Boston episode shattered Biff's confidence in his father completely. The image of his hero, his ideal came to pieces when he saw his father in an incestuous relationship.
It seemed as if Biff's life lost its balance and its centre. There was nothing left to hold on to.
Father/Son Relationships In Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman
After this incident Biff lost all interest in his future career as well as studies. Miller is able to give an example of this behavior through the actions of Willy Loman. When Biff comes home to recollect himself, Willy perceives it as failure. Since Willy desperately wants his oldest son, Biff, to succeed in every way possible, he tries to take matters into his own hands. He could be big in no time" The reason that Biff came home is to find out what he wants in life.
Because Willy gets in the way, matters become more complicated. Willy believes that working on the road by selling is the greatest job a man could have Biff, however, feels the most inspiring job a man could have is working outdoors When their two dreams collide, it becomes frustrating to Willy because he believes that his way is the right way.
Thus, their relationship reaches such a point that Biff can not bear Willy.
The theme of Fathers and Sons in Death of a Salesman from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
The frustration of Biff begins and he no more feels comfort with the presence of his father. They share their dreams, hopes and aspirations. Willy tries to make Biff a prominent man in the country. In course of time, stealing becomes so habitual for Biff that it works as one of the principle causes of his downfall. Willy thinks that education is not necessary for success.
On the contrary, both Willy and Biff humiliates Bernard and mocks at him. Thus, although Biff is a good football player and athlete, these qualities alone are not enough in the business world.
Biff is, in fact, devoid of the good family training which his father might have given him. Biff travels to Boston to meet his father but he finds in the hotel room that his father is passing his time with a girl. Besides, the Boston incident sours the father-son relationship permanently. Miller attempts to show the conflicts that occur as a result of a father not teaching his sons any morals.
Because of this belief, Biff develops an addiction to stealing. The reason he lost his job with Oliver was because he stole basketballs from him.