Character Analysis in Death of a Salesman Essay Example
Act Two of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman starts off with Willy and Linda in the kitchen. Willy is going to meet with his current boss, Howard, to ask for a position closer to home. Willy is a sixty-year-old salesman who constantly travels to different cities and states and has recently gotten into an accident. Linda tells him to ask for an advance for their insurance premium and to meet Biff and Happy at Frank’s Chop House. When he meets Howard in his office, Howard tells him that he doesn’t have a spot for him in New York. Willy begs him for the position but then goes on to tell him a story about when he was eighteen, he was about to leave, with his brother Ben, for Alaska where his father lived. However, Willy then met a salesman named Dave Singleman. Willy admired him. Dave Singleman was an eighty-seven-year-old man who was well-known by all the salesman and buyers. Dave Singleman is the reason Willy never left for Alaska, met his father, or found diamond mines with Ben. Dave Singleman has a huge influence on Willy because he wants to leave a legacy and be portrayed as a successful salesman.
Dave plays an important role in the play and in Willy’s life. Knowing the way Willy speaks about Dave to Howard, it is obvious that he is his role model and he looks up to him. Growing up, Willy did not have his father around. When Ben comes to visit in Brooklyn for the first time, Willy explains how his father left when he was a baby and doesn’t feel too sure about himself. “Can’t you stay a few days? You’re just what I need, Ben, because I-I have a fine position here, but, I-well, Dad left when I was such a baby and, and I never had a chance to talk to him and I still feel-kind of temporary about myself” (Page 1045). Willy didn’t have Ben, an older sibling to have around either. Ben went looking for their father in Alaska when he got older. Not having a father figure or someone to guide you in life could change your view or path in life and maybe Willy looked at Dave as the person he can follow to help him in his career. Dave Singleman was Willy’s role model that he can follow into their foot-steps.
Dave Singleman wore green velvet slippers. The green symbolized his wealth and money and the velvet symbolized money and comfort. Dave lived a comfortable life because he was so rich and did his job so well. When telling the story about Dave to Howard, Willy says that he made a living by just picking up the phone in his room. His green velvet slippers symbolized money, wealth, and comfort. These are all things Willy doesn’t have. At the end of his career, Willy barely has enough money to pay bills. Usually, at the end of someone’s white-collar career they are making their top salary. This is not the case for Willy at all. Not only is Willy only getting paid commission at his job, but he doesn’t even make any sales, so he isn’t getting any actual income. This results in him having to constantly ask Charley, his neighbor, for money. “Charley look…I got my insurance to pay. If you can manage it-I need a hundred and ten dollars. I’d draw it from my bank, but Linda would know, and I…” (Page 1072). He doesn’t have any wealth either. The only wealth or asset Willy really has is his home that he’s trying to keep from falling apart.
What Dave Symbolizes
Dave Singleman symbolized success, wealth, and the American Dream to Willy. Dave had all the success in his career, by making sales from just a phone call. He had wealth. He wore green velvet slippers. He lived the American Dream that Willy dreamed of. Not only does Willy work hard to live the American Dream, but Biff and Happy do, too. Biff is not living the average American Dream as he is in-and-out of jobs and doesn’t have money. Happy on the other hand is living the American Dream. He has a good job, he is handsome, and is very nice to the ladies. Willy has not been successful in living his own American Dream. He strived so hard to live this American Dream by working hard and travelling to different states alone for long periods of time. Willy even asks Bernard, Charley’s son and Biff’s childhood friend, what the secret is.
The secret to success. The secret to the American Dream. He wanted to be successful so bad that he even lied to his family. Willy pushed this idea that he is this big salesman in New England to Biff and Happy, but he really wasn’t. He wanted to be wealthy just like Dave. He wanted to live the American Dream that Dave lived. He wanted to be Dave Singleman and do everything that he did. He wanted to leave his legacy behind for everyone. Willy even romanticizes the idea of working until he is very old and having hundreds of salesman and buyers come to his funeral. “Do you know? When he died- and by the way he died the death of a salesman, in his green velvet slippers in the smoker of the New Yorker, New Haven and Hartford, going into Boston-when he died, hundreds of salesman and buyers were at his funeral” (Page 1063). Willy’s life revolved around Dave Singleman.
Dave Singleman has a great effect on Willy because he wants to be known as a wealthy and well-known salesman. He was significant to Willy because he was his role model and somebody he looked up to in his career field basically all his life since he didn’t have his father or brother to be there for him. Dave lived a great life in his green velvet slippers until he died. The green velvet slippers represented his wealth and comfort in his life. To Willy, Dave Singleman symbolized the American Dream, success, and wealth, all things he wanted. Throughout the play, it is shown that these are the main themes.