Some characters in works of literature only appear briefly but have a tremendous impact on the literature. These characters’s significant presence often influences the actions or development of the other characters in the literary work. In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, Ben Loman is the character that does just that. Ben is the brother of the main character Willy Loman. Though Ben has a brief part in this play, he affects the theme of the play and the development Willy Loman’s character.
The central theme in “Death of a Salesman” is the quest to obtain the American Dream. Ben had a tremendous impact on this theme in the play. Ben went into the jungle when he was 17 and came out of it rich. Following the theme of the play, Ben was the epitome of success. The effect that Ben had on the development of other characters is shown through Willy Loman’s character. Ben lived the life he wanted and had the job he wanted. Even though Ben’s involvement in the play was brief, his success showed what Willy so desperately craved for himself and his sons. Willy wanted to be successful like his brother. Through all the trips Ben made, he was quite a successful man. Through all the trips Willy made, all he had going on for himself was an affair. Ben was rich and happy, while Willy on the other had been poor and miserable.
When Willy was delusional, Ben’s character would appear. Willy always seemed to be happy when he talked to Ben, even though he was really talking to himself. Ben would offer advice to Willy when Willy thought about him. After the restaurant incident, in which Biff and Happy abandon Willy at the steakhouse, Willy was once again “visited” by Ben. Ben told Willy how his family would be financially stable from the insurance money if Willy died. This “conversation” is what influenced Willy Loman to kill himself in an automobile accident.
In conclusion, Ben appeared in Death of a Salesman briefly, but he had a significant position in the play. Ben was one of the examples of the theme of the play and influenced the character development of Willy. Ben’s accomplishments as well as his absence all influenced Willy Loman and his actions. It was Ben who influenced Ben to want to become rich, and ultimately it was Ben who influenced Willy to his demise. Characters that appear briefly in literature stand to represent and influence something greater than what is actually expressed. Ben represents the theme of the American Dream, he is the symbol of success, and he is a literary motif.