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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller
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How would you describe Biff and Happy from Death of a Salesman? Who is more sympathetic?

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I would argue that Biff is the more sympathetic of the two. He once had a chance to be someone in life, but his old man blew it for him with his unrealistic expectations and the affair he conducted with a secretary, which completely traumatized Biff when he found out...

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I would argue that Biff is the more sympathetic of the two. He once had a chance to be someone in life, but his old man blew it for him with his unrealistic expectations and the affair he conducted with a secretary, which completely traumatized Biff when he found out about it. To some extent, Biff inhabits the same delusional fantasy world as Willy, but only because his old man put him there; he's never really had a chance to escape.

Happy, on the other hand, is unburdened with his brother's psychological baggage. With his good looks and charm, he's just the sort of "well-liked man" that meets with Willy's approval. But instead of striving for success, he just breezes through life without a care in the world, happy to share his old man's deluded worldview, unwilling to change or develop as a human being.

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Biff is Willy Loman's oldest son, and he is an insecure man without a steady job or relationship. In the play, Biff returns home and is depicted as a lost, confused, desperate individual. As an adolescent, Biff excelled at sports and was a popular, enthusiastic boy. Unfortunately, Willy did not instill the proper values in his son and instead praised his popularity. Biff's dreams of playing college football came to an end after he failed a high school math course and discovered that his father was having an affair. As the play progresses, Biff comes to terms with the reality of his situation and life. By the end of the play, Biff refuses to live a delusional life and lie to himself. He accepts the fact that he is a deceitful thief and leaves home hoping to change the trajectory of his life for the better.

Happy is Willy's youngest son, and he is a delusional, dishonest man. Happy is a few years younger than Biff and works as an assistant (although he claims to be the assistant buyer of the company). He brags about sleeping with the executives' fiancées and thrives on sexual gratification. Unlike his brother, Happy is unapologetic and refuses to accept reality by taking responsibility for his actions. Happy's arrogance and lack of self-reflection make him a less sympathetic character than Biff. Happy does not feel bad about engaging in affairs and is content with living a lie. Unlike Biff, who has a tortured soul from years of being selfish, Happy refuses to acknowledge his faults.

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In Death of a Salesman, Willy's elder son Biff is uncertain, insecure, and haunted by struggles with his father's expectations. As a child, Biff's parents believed he had more potential than his brother, but once he reached adulthood Biff struggled to hold down a stable job. He dreams of working as a farmer and feels his father and the expectations of his family only serve as obstacles to his desires. Once he discovers his father's affair, Biff loses faith and respect for him and begins to question his values and dreams.

Happy is Willy's younger son who has managed to hold down a modest job as an assistant after a lifetime of living in his brother's shadow. He is interested in career advancement and gaining his parents' approval. He always defends his family members, but his womanizing lifestyle disappoints his mother.

In the play, Biff is written more sympathetically than Happy. Happy shares his father's habit of deluding himself into ignoring how miserable he feels; he lacks insight into his feelings. Biff, on the other hand, is a character with complex feelings who develops throughout the story. Happy is more of a static character, but Biff has complicated feelings about his life, career, and father that develop throughout the course of the play.

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