The Friend: A Look at Bernard from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Essay

The Friend: A Look at Bernard from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Essay

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In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, there are many characters that act in both the past and present through the musings of Willy Loman, one of the main characters in the play. Because of this, the audience gains different perspectives on every character. This also illustrates brilliantly how all the characters influence each other’s stories. One of such characters emerges in the part of Bernard. Though this is a notably minor role, Bernard has, or potentially has, an important influence on Willy’s son Biff. In fact, it is almost the same role Bernard’s father, Charley, has on Willy. A common role exists in the real world as well as in plays and movies. It is the part of the friend, almost unnoticeable, who devotes a portion of his life for the sake of the leading man.
Bernard’s appearances come solely from the materialized imaginings of Willy. As Bernard is merely a supporting character, the audience holds the opportunity to read into and between the known parts of his story. The first time he emerges, he is a teenager hanging out with Willy’s sons, Biff and Happy. Young Bernard is somewhat of a nerd. He studies hard and is quite smart, yet, according to Biff, he is “liked, but not well liked” (Miller). One can assume that Bernard is also not as well-known as Biff. Young Bernard is “Biff’s friend” and “Charley’s son”, but has not yet come to be his own person. Biff, the football star in high school, outshines his friend quite effortlessly. Nevertheless, he seems to be the only one gaining anything from the relationship.
In Willy’s present, the audience gains the understanding that Bernard has become a success as an adult, unlike Biff. Bernard is a university graduate, a lawyer, and is in the midst of prep...

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...ity. It is not always easy to go against the friends and supposed authorities in one’s life. When the circumstance involves one’s morality, though, it is more important to stand for that which one has faith is the honest thing to do. If Bernard were to have given in, it is likely they both would have been caught at a state exam. In that case, Biff might not have been the only one to miss graduation that year and the future Supreme Court case would not have had the same outcome. Lives are not always affected by which people are in them, but rather by who is no longer in them. In Bernard’s example, letting his acquaintance with Biff fall away was good for him in the end.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. "Death of a Salesman." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. By X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Boston: Pearson, 2013. N. pag. Print.

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