Death of a Salesman: Characters

This Custom-Writing.org article contains all the information about Death of a Salesman characters: Willy Loman, Biff, Happy, Linda Loman, Ben Loman, Charley, Bernard, the Woman, and others. Additionally, in the first section, you’ll find a detailed Death of a Salesman character map.

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🗺️ Death of a Salesman Character Map

Below you’ll find detailed Death of a Salesman character map.

The picture contains a character map of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.

👔 Willy Loman

Willy Loman, the main character in Death of a Salesman, has two grown-up sons with his wife, Linda. He’s a salesman (even though the reader never finds out what he sells) who represents the American dream. However, Willy’s perception of it is slightly shifted, and this mistake costs him that happy life he always dreamt of.

Loman lies to his family about his work achievements, while in reality, he barely makes the ends meet. He sees the secret of success in being likable, not hard-working. This philosophy eventually leads Willy to a mental breakdown.

The memories from his past become so ingrained in his worldview he can’t seem to understand they are illusions. From his flashbacks and conversations, we learn that Willy puts too many expectations on his sons and keeps getting disappointed when they fail. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes and can’t realize that he is the one who keeps ruining the life of his family members.

Linda and the sons truly love Willy as he is, which he, tragically, doesn’t recognize. His decision to sacrifice his life for insurance money becomes the last act of goodwill towards his family. Some of Willy Loman’s quotes below can help you understand this tragic character better.

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Willy Loman Quotes

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. Because the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

Walk in very serious. You are not applying for a boy’s job. Money is to pass. Be quiet, fine, and serious. Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

Like a young god. Hercules—something like that. And the sun, the sun all around him. Remember how he waved to me? Right up from the field, with the representatives of three colleges standing by? And the buyers I brought, and the cheers when he came out—Loman, Loman, Loman! God Almighty, he’ll be great yet. A star like that, magnificent, can never really fade away!

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

I put thirty-four years into this firm, Howard, and now I can’t pay my insurance! You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away—a man is not a piece of fruit!

Death of a Salesman,
act 2

I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman, and you are Biff Loman!

Death of a Salesman,
act 2

👨‍🌾 Biff Loman

Biff Loman is one of the somewhat different characters in Death of a Salesman. Biff is not like his father and younger brother, Happy, who decide to keep living in a world of illusions. It’s possible to say that Biff represents the better parts of Willy’s nature.

Biff’s relationship with his father is more than tense. Willy thinks that his son fails him, whereas Biff treats him the same way. The foundations of trust collapsed when teenage Biff caught his father cheating. At that moment, everything Willy Loman has ever told him lost its value.

Biff has always felt trapped in the cage of Willy’s expectations for him. Only after his father’s death he can breathe freely and choose the life path he wants for himself.

Essentially, Biff is the only Death of a Salesman character who searches for answers. He admits his failure but is not afraid to look for other ways. Unlike his father, he can learn from his mistakes. His identity crisis helped him to come back to life.

American dream still feels achievable for him, but he knows that working hard can bring him higher than the cheating strategy of being “well-liked.”

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To find out more about the most sympathetic character in the play, check out the selection of Biff Loman’s quotes just below.

Biff Loman Quotes

To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer. To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still—that’s how you build a future.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

This farm I work on, it’s spring there now, see? And they’ve got about fifteen new colts. There’s nothing more inspiring or—beautiful than the sight of a mare and a new colt.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

I hate this city and I’ll stay here. Now what do you want?

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

How the hell did I ever get the idea I was a salesman there? I even believed myself that I’d been a salesman for him! And then he gave me one look and—I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. We’ve been talking in a dream for fifteen years.

Death of a Salesman,
act 2

Will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?

Death of a Salesman,
act 2

😃 Happy Loman

Biff’s younger brother, Happy Loman, appears to be a very static character. He is not evolving throughout the play, as Biff does. Essentially, Happy is the representation of the worst personal traits Willy possesses.

In his character, we can see the continuation of the play’s central theme. Living in the shadow of his brother’s promising future, Happy becomes caught in the illusion of the American dream. His promise to follow Willy’s steps at the end of the play confirms his lack of self-reflection and self-awareness. His commitment to “beat his racket” is just a proof that he will never be able to get out of the American dream’s claws.

Some of his other negative characteristics include lying, taking bribes, and sleeping with other people’s girlfriends. Happy’s ego rules his whole life as he continually exaggerates his position. Just like Willy, he doesn’t admit that his job situation is worse than it appears.

All these tricks serve as Happy’s strategy of making everything more comfortable for himself. Instead of working the situation through, he just manipulates others to transform it into a more favorable one. Some of Happy Loman’s quotes below highlight the details about his personality that strike the reader the most.

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Happy Loman Quotes

All I can do now is wait for the merchandise manager to die. And suppose I get to be merchandise manager? He’s a good friend of mine, and he just built a terrific estate on Long Island. And he lived there about two months and sold it, and now he’s building another one. He can’t enjoy it once it’s finished.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

And you wouldn’t get fed up with it, Biff. It’d be the family again. There’d be the old honor, and comradeship, and if you wanted to go off for a swim or somethin’ —well you’d do it!

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

All right, boy. I’m gonna show you and everybody else that Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It’s the only dream you can have—to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I’m gonna win it for him.

Death of a Salesman,
Requiem

👧🏼 Linda Loman

Since there is not much insight regarding her personality, Linda Loman is the most difficult Death of a Salesman character to interpret. However, some hints allow us to realize that Willy’s wife is the most reasonable and calm person in the play.

Linda’s monologue at the end of the play shows her perception of freedom. Paying the debt off and owning materialistic goods is a symbol of success for Linda. It is likely due to Willy’s influence over all the years.

Linda Loman is a woman of great love and loyalty. Even though her husband can be tough with her sometimes, and she suspects he might have a mistress, Linda always has his back.

At the same time, she fails Willy when she sees the warning signs. She doesn’t take any measures to help his mental state. According to her, the only thing Linda does is keeping their sons away since they might upset Willy. She is just as responsible for his death as the others.

Linda Loman’s quotes show that she is almost like Willy’s mother because she cares for him so much. She knows all about him and always supports him, even though he tried to commit suicide and borrowed money from Charley.

Linda Loman Quotes

I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

And you tell me he has no character? The man who never worked a day but for your benefit? When does he get the medal for that?

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

It sounds so old-fashioned and silly, but I tell you he put his whole life into you and you’ve turned your backs on him. Biff, I swear to God! Biff, his life is in your hands!

Death of a Salesman,
act 1

Get out of here, both of you, and don’t come back! I don’t want you tormenting him any more. Go on now, get your things together!

Death of a Salesman,
act 2

Why did you do it? I search and search and I search, and I can’t understand it, Willy. I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there’ll be nobody home. We’re free and clear. We’re free… We’re free…

Death of a Salesman,
Requiem

🎭 Other Characters in Death of a Salesman

Charley in Death of a Salesman

In Death of a Salesman, Charley is Willy’s neighbor and friend. He supports Loman by lending him money and offering a job. Willy’s jealousy of his success is too great to accept the offer. However, Charley keeps trying to help his friend lose the illusions through all those years.

Ben in Death of a Salesman

Ben is Willy’s brother, who got insanely rich by finding a diamond mine. In Death of a Salesman, Ben appears as a ghost. Willy sees him whenever he experiences a significant breakdown. He always regrets not going to Alaska with his brother, who is the embodiment of success he wishes for his sons.

Bernard in Death of a Salesman

Charley’s son, Bernard, is another person Willy is jealous of. Studying hard as a kid, Bernard managed to reach the position of a successful businessman. It especially hurts Willy because he used to mock the neighbor’s kid for being unlikable. Although he wasn’t welcome in Loman’s house, Bernard loved coming to play with Biff.

The Woman in Death of a Salesman

The Woman in Death of a Salesman is Willy’s mistress with no name. She appears to be his client’s secretary and she’s likely using the salesman for her own ends. Willy is so eager about his affair because the Woman’s attention feeds his ego. When Biff finds out about this betrayal, he loses faith in his father’s words and promises.

We hope that the above information on Death of a Salesman characters is useful. Want to learn more about the meaning of the play? Then you should check out our analysis. And if you’re looking for exciting essay ideas on the story, feel free to read our Death of a Salesman topics list.

🔗 References

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