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death of a salesman

Biff the Hero? In Arthur Miller’s, dramatic play, Death of a Salesman the Loman family presents its self as being the perfect nuclear family as opposed to their dysfunctional nature. Even though Miller portrays Willy Loman as the main character of the story, his lack of praise worthy traits make it necessary for another to be the hero. This other character comes in the form of Willy’s son, Biff Loman, who may not succeed in regards to Willy’s dreams, but still deserves the honor of being called the hero of the play. Biff shows qualities describing a hero because he grows up with false ideals but later rejects them searching for his true identity. To analyze Biff Loman the most important aspect comes from his change in self-realization that represents his dynamic nature. This dynamic nature shows with his interaction in regards to other characters and with respects to underlying themes in the play. Even though many people have influenced Biff over his life, only his family has left a significant impact on it. Their presence and importance in his life make it necessary to view the motivating aspects of his interaction with them, whether it is positive or negative. The first character that we must analyze comes in the form of the overbearing but idolized father, who sets the foundation for Biff’s beliefs and way of life. Many different aspects of this relationship can be portrayed in reference to Biff’s ultimate and final realization at the end of the play. In Biff’s youth, he accepts and adores everything that pertains to Willy because that is the nature of a small child. Even though we later realize the err in Willy’s ideology, his initial instincts to teach his son success held no faults. Willy’s hopes and goals were pure (Onger 154). On the other hand, Willy’s excessive need to promote vanity and unfulfilling popularity, sets the stage for Biff’s eventual letdown. Willy provides Biff with an ego because of the high praise given to Biff that makes him conceited. Such great praise prompts Biff’s pride of himself and his family, which leads Biff to feel contentment and fulfillment in his younger years before his dreams come to an end. But, his flaw comes in the form of hubris or arrogance that goes hand in hand with his father's belief in his own greatness. Biff so readily believes his father’s assumptions that he will not work at any ...

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...With this in mind Biff forces himself to break the barriers of his fathers confining concepts and to evaluate his own life. Biff’s understanding of Willy’s inability to realize his [Willy’s] identity, proved vital to Biff’s own search for self identification. Willy further proved his inability to understand by finally committing suicide and thinking that it would bring happiness to Biff. Biff shows his dynamic nature in the rejection of false ideals and in the search for true identity. One last proof of his change shows up in a strong symbolic element of the play. When Biff stole footballs in his youth, he felt no shame or sorrow, but that does not hold true in the case of the fountain pen he stole from Oliver. "I took those balls years ago, now I walk in with his fountain pen? That clinches it, don’t you see? I can’t face him like that!" (Miller 88). By regret for his actions, Biff proves the maturity he gains, which no other character can attest for. Because of such amazing development, "…Biff, having completed his search for self-identity in the face of the odds which had driven his father crazy, emerges as the true protagonist of this play" (Sharma 79).