Like Father, Like Son Essay

1587 words - 6 pages

When one wants to see what their life will amount to in the future, they are often told to look to their parents as a gauge of their potential. In Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, the contrast between the characters Biff and Bernard is mirrored in the contrast between their fathers, Willy and Charley. The cliché "˜like father like son' is very relevant to this play. Bernard and his father Charley are successful and intelligent whereas Biff and his father Willy are not. Biff and Bernard as children show the same disparities as when they are adults, and this is directly reflected in their successes in life. Willy and Charley show similar contrasts that show insight on Bernard and Biff's futures. Willy Loman and Charley are neighbors, but have very different lifestyles. Willy is a salesman, he travels and visits companies to sell them merchandise, he is in the bottom of middle class, socially and economically, but his pride prevents him from accepting this. He has an ideal of personal attractiveness, and he believes that it is all he needs to get by in life. He thinks that one's attractiveness and personality directly influence one's successes. He wants to be like Dave Singleman, a salesman who was so popular that, "he'd go up to his room, y'understand, put on his green velvet slippers"¦and pick up the phone and call the buyers, and without ever leaving his room at the age of eighty-four, he made his living"(81). Willy has big dreams of success, but they are not realistic and often exaggerated. Willy's looks fade as he gets older, and his business life fails, he does not have the money to pay his bills, and eventually gets fired. To save face Willy lies and tells his wife, Linda, that he is still making money and that he is popular. Willy is emotionally unstable, and often gets lost in his lies and daydreams. He is stubborn and refuses to accept his failures. Charley is "A large man, slow of speech, laconic, immovable" (41), but though he appears inarticulate, he is actually a very practical man. He does not speak often, and offers his profound advice only when provoked. He is emotionally secure, and consequently does not let his emotions interfere with his business life. He is very realistic; his success comes from hard work and caution. Willy says that Charley is "Not "“ liked. He's liked, but he's not - well liked"(30). Charley is not an attractive man, somewhat overweight, but contrary to Willy's beliefs that has not stopped him from attaining success. He runs his own business, using a minimal amount of personal contact. Charley, unlike Willy, does not have great illusions, about how life could be, but instead approaches life in a practical manner, understanding that success is something one works for. Charley and Willy are opposites in every manner. Charley serves as a good contrast to Willy's delusions. Their philosophies and ways of approaching life are passed along to their sons...

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