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Ben in Death of a Salesman Essay


The character of Ben in Arthur Miller's, Death Of A Salesman, functions as a catalyst to fuel the development of the main character, Willy Loman. Ben serves as the figure for which Willy subconsciously and consciously strives to be like throughout the play. Willy seems so obsessed with his brother's success and the idea of living his brother's life, that he loses control over his own life and reality. By exploring Ben's character we can learn Willy's personality and character, proving that Ben's personal morals become Willy's rules of life. The contrast between Ben and Willy's characters allows the reader to recognize the importance of letting go of the past and not dwelling on mistakes made or regrets.

The first time Ben appears is in a flashback within Willy's mind. This flashback is used as an interruption of Willy's feelings of inadequacy about his present situation where he has returned home from a selling trip, unable to concentrate unable to keep his mind in the present. This flashback with Ben provides us with a great amount of information about Ben, and thus about Willy. We learn first that Ben was a lot wealthier then Willy, they were brothers, and they did not grow up together. We also learn through the flashback that Willy glorifies Ben for his successes. "Ben! I've been waiting for you so long! What's the answer? How did you do it?" Obviously, Ben has achieved what Willy wishes for. We find out that Ben has made a fortune through "Principally, dimond mines" in Africa. He has prospered by essentially using other people and the land 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 I was rich." Willy believes that this is an excellent way to make money and tries to apply it to his own situation. He believes a person does not need to put in a lot of hard work to achieve success, instead, Ben's way is the best way.

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