In the play, Death of a Salesman Miller says that the latest boom in real estate is one of the testimonies of the success of the American businesses. He particularly highlights the rapid development of residential buildings in Willy’s Brooklyn neighborhood. Those who have succeeded in their careers and businesses owe it to their relentless pursuit of the American Dream, which supports aggressiveness. Willy wishes to live a life once lived by his late brother, Ben. Miler is also saying that the American business environment is fiercely competitive and only favors the mighty (Miller 5). Indeed, Willy believes that this is the reason why his sales job has not flourished. According to him, Ben only succeeded in his businesses because he left the country to try his luck elsewhere.
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Ben is an adventurous brother existing in Willy’s imagination. He is ambitious and a risk-taker ready to stray into unknown territories to explore the opportunities there. His character is a sharp contradiction to his brother, Willy, who has been depicted as dreamless and only preoccupied with unhelpful nostalgic memories. A close look at Ben’s speech, choice of words, and exchange with Willy, Biff, and Happy reveal that to be masculine, one must venture into the wild and explore the opportunities that abound. He says that the outside world is risky and yet full of opportunities, which are available for men who are willing to leave their comfort zones at home.
Horatio Alger’s books are mainly characterized by a “rags to riches” narrative. They tell stories of how impoverished boys rose from humble backgrounds to make it in life. This is the same story as Ben, who seems to be an exemplification of the American Dream.
The significance of knowing that Ben and Willy’s father was in Alaska, but Ben ended up in Africa was to help build the plot of the narrative and bring out a literary device of symbolism. Although Ben’s father was in Alaska, he is rarely seen. The search for him symbolizes the mythical search for the American Dream by many Americans. Ben comes out as an honest family man, but whose fairness is in question. He loved his father and offered wise advice to his brother and nephews about the rewards that come from taking risks. He tells them, “The jungle is dark but full of diamonds” (107) reaffirms this assertion.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a salesman: Play in two acts. Dramatists Play Service, 1980.