Which character change/progresses the most in Death of a Salesman? What types of changes occur to this character? What is some evidence to prove this? What is this character like at the beginning,...

Which character change/progresses the most in Death of a Salesman? What types of changes occur to this character? What is some evidence to prove this?

 What is this character like at the beginning, middle, and end of the play?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Biff is the most dynamic character throughout the play. At the beginning of the play, Biff is a jaded man who is searching to find himself. The audience recognizes that Biff has serious misgivings about his father, but does not know the source of his hostility. Throughout Biff's childhood, Willy taught his son that being liked was the most important character trait and neglected to teach Biff the significance of hard work, dedication, and integrity. As an adult, Biff is an unsuccessful, lost man hoping to find his niche in life. In the middle of the play, Biff agrees to meet with his old boss in an attempt to receive a business loan. Biff is relatively optimistic when he enters the meeting, but experiences a dramatic change following the meeting. Shortly after, Biff meets up with Happy and Willy at a restaurant where he attempts to force his father into accepting reality. Biff's perspective on life changes as he comes to terms with who he really is as a person. Biff realizes that he is an unaccomplished kleptomaniac with a terrible work ethic. By the end of the play, Biff takes responsibility for his lack of success and attempts to make peace with his father. Biff's perspective on the American Dream also changes as he realizes that money and prestige are not accurate gauges for one's personal happiness.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that Biff changes the most in the play as he realises that he has control over not only his own success and failure, but his father's.

Biff was seen as the hero, with prospects, sporting prowess and good looks. He also possessed some of his father's rose-tinted optimism in teh early days. Biff however clearly gave up on striving for success and recognition after he saw his father with the other woman. From that point he sees his father as a 'fake' and has avoided dealing with the crushing disappointment of his father's fallibility. Once he is made aware of the seriousness of Willy's mental state, he steps up to support his parents-

BIFF: ...I've been remiss. I know that, Mom. But now I'll stay, and I swear to you, I'll apply myself.

Unfortunately Biff is unable to get the truth about both of their failures through to his father, and though he tries to comfort his mother, Willy is beyond help in terms of seeing reality-

BIFF: I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you.

Willy's last thoughts are of Biff scoring a touch down for him as he promised. Willy's suicide can be seen as prompted by him finally accepting what Biff tried to tell him all along.


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Death of a Salesman

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