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Studyworld Studynotes
\Studyworld\ Studyworld Studynotes \ Death of a Salesman:
Main Characters

Willy Loman

Willy Loman is an unsuccessful salesman, who deludes himself and his family by saying that he is in fact very lucrative. Willy always tells his sons that all that matters is being well-liked and having an attractive personality, and by doing so, he encourages Biff not to study and rely heavily on his athletics. It is as though Willy wants to live vicariously through his sons since he knows that he is not well-liked himself. When Biff discovers that Willy has been having an affair, he no longer respects Willy and their relationship sours from that point on. Biff goes from job to job, travelling all over the country, unable to find anything stable from which to make a living. Biff's turn for the worse strongly affects Willy, who now has no hope for success so he continues to delude himself further. Biff accuses Willy of having all the wrong dreams, and Willy cannot admit to the fact that he is not a good salesman. When Willy tries to get a job with his firm that does not involve traveling, he is ultimately fired and he frantically grabs for his sons through which to have his last hopes. Biff refuses to play into the lies anymore, and Willy is distraught. He finally decides to kill himself, to give Biff some seed money, but there is nothing that comes out of his decision. Willy is an example of the tragic man who has many unrealized dreams which he cannot realize even as he dies.

Linda Loman

Linda Loman is Willy's ever-faithful wife. She is his biggest defender against his sons, whom she accuses of being careless about Willy's feelings. She manages their finances and always reminds Willy how much money he needs to pull in in order to make that week's payments. Every time Willy comes home disillusioned, Linda always puffs him back up saying that he is a great salesman. She believes anything Willy tells her, except when he talks about his faults. Even when she finds out that Willy has thoughts of killing himself, she refuses to confront Willy about them since she knows it will embarrass him. When the boys come home after deserting Willy in the restaurant, she tells them never to come there again. They cannot just come and see her, since she loves Willy too much to let them disrespect him. At the end, she stands over his grave, saying that she cannot cry but as she tells Willy that she has just made the last payment on the house, she becomes overwhelmed. All through their life together, she had refused to let Willy believe that his dreams were false, but now, it is too late.

Biff Loman

Biff Loman is Willy's pride and joy. Willy always talks about Biff, and his visits bring great excitement to Willy. However, Biff has been raised with the wrong values, since Willy encourages Biff to ignore his academics, rely on athletics and personality, and to steal. When Biff finally sees that his father is a fake, he becomes lost, since he had relied so heavily on Willy's values in the past to guide him, yet now those values have led him astray. When Biff is pressured into seeing Bill Oliver to ask for a job, he unfortunately steals a fountain pen from Oliver's office. When Biff realizes what he is doing, he sees for the first time that he is not doing what he wants to do but has always been doing what Willy has wanted him to do. He is no one special ("a dime a dozen") and if Willy had not puffed him up so much in the past, maybe Biff would have been someone. When Biff tries to confront Willy and get him to see how false his dreams were, Willy refuses to listen, so Biff has to be turned away, which causes him to cry. Willy sees the tears as a symbol of Biff's love for him, which leads him to commit suicide for Biff's sake, but his action was to no avail. At Willy's funeral, Biff accuses Willy of having false dreams, and Biff is glad that he has finally escaped them.

Happy Loman

Happy Loman is the neglected son of the family. Throughout his life, he has always been second string to Biff in Willy's eyes. He is moderately successful with a good job and his own apartment, but he still feels lonely, since he knows that he is missing the love and care that his parents pay to Biff. He always tries to grab Willy's attention by asking if he noticed his weight loss, his intentions to marry, and his determination to carry out the Loman dreams of being successful in business. He tries to discourage Biff from telling Willy the truth by keeping up the front that Biff is going into business with Bill Oliver and that Biff and Happy will go into business together as the Loman Brothers, which makes Willy proud. In the end, Happy still tries to live Willy's dream, even though Biff knows they are false.

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Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
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Act One - Part 1
Act One - Part 2
Act One - Part 3
Act One - Part 4
Act Two - Part 1
Act Two - Part 2
Act Two - Part 3
Act Two - Part 4
Act Two - Part 5
Requiem


 

 



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