“Death of a Salesman” is a play about Willy Loman, a struggling traveling salesman (Miller).Willy believes in the American dream which brings with it fame and material wealth. It is a dream which he never realized. Biff and Happy are the sons of Willy. Both Biff and Happy possesses strengths and weaknesses in their characters that make them different from each other. Some of these strengths and weaknesses were the result of their upbringing, specifically the influence of their father. Biff is Willy’s eldest son who did not graduate because he failed math. He was a football star and is very popular in high school. Like his father, Biff also believes in the American dream. However, with so many disappointments in life, he later realizes that his father’s philosophy may just be an illusion and not a reality.
Some of the strengths of Biff include his having a caring personality. He shows his care for his mom, Linda when he tells Willy not to shout at her. Another proof that Biff cares so much for her mom is his keeping from her about his father having a mistress. He protected his mother from the pain that it could have brought her. Biff is also concerned about Willy. This can be observed by the way he looked at Willy while he was in the yard, doing his gardening.
Another striking strength in the personality of Biff can be seen towards the end of the play when he accepted that his whole life has been a lie. He admitted that his life, specifically his family, is living in an unreal world. It has dawned on Biff that popularity is not enough to make you successful; but rather, a lot of hard work is what is necessary.
A major weakness of Biff is that he has lost hope already. He no longer believes in the American dream. Although it is right that he does not believe in the lies and illusions of his family, he went quite far because he also lost his confidence and ambition. Another weakness of Biff is the way he talks. He swears a lot which his father did not like. Moreover, Biff has a bad habit of stealing.
Happy is the youngest son of Willy. He always likes to please his father in the hope that his father will also give importance to him like the way he does with Biff. He is an insecure person and a weakling. He lacks self-confidence. He is living in the shadows of his brother. Happy wants to live up to the expectations of his father. The opinions of other people are very important to him. Like his father, he lives in an illusion. He creates an image that he is the assistant buyer of a store but actually he is just an assistant to the assistant. He pretends to be somebody whom he is not. Even his name “Happy” is an irony of how he feels about his life. Even till the end of the play, Happy still believes in his father’s illusions and he hopes to achieve it for him. The main strength of Happy’s character is he remains positive despite the failures which he experienced in life. Even the death of his father does not disillusion him from believing in the American dream.
One weakness of Happy is his being a womanizer. He sleeps with the girlfriends of his superiors. He does not respect women and treats them like material things only.
Both Biff and Happy are in their parents’ house because they are visiting them. Both of them left their house already to find a career. However, Biff and Happy are not successful like their father.An analysis of the characters of Biff and Happy reveal that each one has strengths and weaknesses which have influenced their lives greatly. All throughout the play, the readers slowly discover the strengths and weaknesses of both Biff and Happy. The readers observe how their personalities have affected the outcomes of their lives.
Miller, Arthur (1949). “Death of a Salesman”.