Death of a Salesman Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In Death of a Salesman, what is the role of men in the play?

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With the exception of Linda, all the major characters in the play are men, and Linda's character is developed only in her relation to her husband and sons. It is through his male characters, then, that Miller develops his themes. Through Willy, Miller shows the relentless pressure of business competition and American materialism, the corruption of personal integrity, and the effects of outliving one's own time. The lives of Biff and Happy, in their lack of purpose and direction, serve to emphasize Willy's failures as a man and a father. Willy's brother Ben provides contrast between the era of modern America and an earlier time in our national history. Finally, Charley's and Howard's stability and success emphasize the ineffectiveness and tragic outcomes of Willy's life choices.

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