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Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

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What are the roles of the minor characters in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller?

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Linda is Willy Loman's supportive wife, who compares her husband to a "little boat looking for a harbor." She sympathizes with her husband's lack of success and is deeply disturbed when she discovers a rubber hose that Willy plans on using to commit suicide. She also chastises her sons for their selfish actions and lack of concern for Willy.

Bernard is Biff's childhood friend and neighbor. As a child, Bernard was unathletic, but he studied hard and developed positive character traits that led to his success. He also functions as Biff's foil and grows up to be a prominent lawyer.

Charley is Bernard's father, and Willy's only genuine friend. He lends Willy money each month and even offers him a job. Unlike Willy, Charley is a realist and a successful businessman.

Jenny is Charley's secretary, and she is disturbed when Willy arrives to see her boss.

Ben is Willy's fortunate, successful older brother. He is deceased and appears during Willy's hallucinations. Ben speaks to Willy and ends up encouraging him to commit suicide. Willy views his brother as the epitome of success and regrets not traveling with him to Alaska.

The Woman has an affair with Willy when he travels to Boston. Biff ends up accidentally meeting her when he travels to Boston to ask for his father's help. Her memory constantly haunts Willy, who feels guilty about cheating on Linda with her.

Howard Wagner is Willy's young, privileged boss, and he ends up firing Willy when he asks for a meeting to discuss moving to a sedentary position in the city.

Miss Forsythe & Letta are two women that Happy and Biff meet at the restaurant. Willy's sons end up leaving him behind when they go out on the town with Miss Forsythe and Letta. Their characters emphasize Happy's and Biff's superficial, selfish personalities.

Stanley is the waiter at the restaurant where Happy and Biff are supposed to treat their father to a nice meal.

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Bernard: Charley`s son. His success and thoughtful character contrast with the failures of Willy`s sons.

Miss Forsythe and Letta: Women with who Biff and Happy flirt at a restaurant. Examples of superficial relationships.

Jenny: Secretary to Howard. Shows a realistic perception of Willy.

Ben Loman: Successful older brother of Willy and role model.

Happy Loman: Younger son of Willy. Follows his father's dream.

Linda Loman: Wife to Willy. Co-dependent in a sense. Holds the family together.

Stanley: Waiter.

Howard Wagner: Boss who is successful but not compassionate. Eventually fires Willy.

The Woman: Willy had an affair with her. The affair is crucial to the plot. The Woman is not really fleshed out as a character.

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