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The Character of Uncle Ben in Death of a Salesman

:: 3 Works Cited
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The Character of Uncle Ben in Death of a Salesman


The character of Ben in Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman serves a complex dramatic function.  He is Willy Loman's real brother, the idealized memory of that brother, and an aspect of Willy's own personality, and these distinct functions are sometimes simultaneous.  Through his aggressive actions and vibrant speech, the audience is given a strong contrast to Willy's self-doubt and self-contradiction.  In addition, the encounters between Ben and Willy serve as an extended examination of professional and familial morality.  Finally, Ben personifies the burden of Willy's expectations in regards to both material success and the proper role of a father.

The most fundamental of Ben's characteristics evident in his language is his haste.  Appearing in the middle of Willy and Charley's card game, Ben's first words are, "I only have a few minutes"  (45).  He makes his departure shortly after announcing, "I'll be late for my train"  (52).  During his second appearance, he declares, "I haven't much time" and "I've got to go"  (85-6)....


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... would either have been of more comfort to Willy, or have been revealed as a more fully human, less mythic character.  As it is, Ben serves only to remind him of his past loss, emphasize his current failure, and provide the means of his final destruction.

Works Cited

Centola, Steven R.  "Family Values in Death of A Salesman."  CLA Journal.  37.1 (1993):  29-41.

Jacobsen, Irving F.  "Family Dreams in Death of A Salesman."  American Literature.  47 (1975):  247-58.

Miller, Arthur.  Death of A Salesman.  New York:  Penguin, 1976.

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