The conversation is supposed to be a flashback of the past, yet it makes sense that this conversation with Ben actually takes place in the present as things he would have wanted to say to Ben. Somehow, Willy has Linda enter the scene. She provides positive comforting, telling Willy that his life is okay, that hes well liked by his sons and that, someday . . . hell be a member of the firm(1957). She provides this as a description of what can happen after honest work, unlike Bens own. Willy catches on and in fact begins to demonstrate that he did once believe in himself, and actually did think he could make it.
A further demonstration of this is illustrated in a scene that has Willy completely sure of himself and of his boys, the day of Biffs big football game. Miller uses Ben as a device to further the action, to move the play forward. Miller uses him as a way to re-direct the play, to get Willy out of a situation and into another. After the entire flashback sequence, the plot then shifts to Willy in Charlies office. Charley represents everything that Ben is not. He is a decent, hard working family man who has worked hard his life, and has achieved relative success in his older age.
The opposite of Ben, yet Willy still idolizes Ben, the man who achieved immediate wealth. This can be tied to Willys profession as a salesman. A salesman is someone who one specific day could achieve successes, while other days not. Willy believes that this is the better way to do it, as evidenced by his belief in Bens method. Taylor 5 The third time Ben appears is in a complete hallucination of Willys. He appears completely within Willys mind, someone Willy is talking to about his decision of suicide. Ben is used to provide support for his decision. Willy becomes Ben in the last scene.
We are able to view through him the final internal struggle that Willy goes through in his own mind, leading up to his suicide. Ben provides justification for Willy that he should commit suicide. Ben is a very materialistic person. He believes that money will do children better than love and support. He tries to persuade Willy into believing that insurance money would be better for his family than his love. We see that Willy is struggling with this idea, trying to find some way to provide for his boys. The scene is halted, Willy goes on to find out that Biff loves him, – he likes me (1981)!
Immediately upon discovering this, Ben re-appears, stating that yes, Biff will be outstanding with twenty thousand behind him(1982). At this point, it has all been decided in Willys mind. He is going to do it, and he is going to provide his sons with money by killing himself. Through his discussion with Ben we can see the struggle he goes through to reach his decision, and yet we see how much he wants it. Willy does not see this as an end to his own life, but rather the only thing he has left to do in his life that can provide for his sons. It is evident throughout the whole story that all Willy wanted was for his family to be happy.
Ben is essentially Willys role model throughout the play and acts as someone who has achieved the true essence, in Willys mind, of the American dream. He is someone who came out of a jungle rich at 21. Ben is also used in a large part to contribute to the overall theme of the novel. Taylor 6 Biff states at the end during his fathers funeral he had all the wrong dreams(1984). Perhaps this is true of Willy Loman. He was so caught up in achieving the American Dream, and achieving Bens life, that he was unable to see that the dream was different for everyone. He was unable to see who he was and to choose realistic goals for himself.
Ben was used by Miller to provide the guiding light for Willy throughout the entire play. Through exploration of Bens character, we are able to answer questions as to who Willy is. We can conclude that had Ben never been present, Willys life might have ended different. He would not have idolized this foreign man, perhaps choosing more realistic goals and dreams for himself. Bens character is used as a goal for Willy to strive for. In the process, as outsiders, we learn the importance of being proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. Willy never experiences this because he is too busy trying to be like his brother.
Miller uses Bens character as a role model for Willy. Through his three appearances in the novel, we are given a chance to view Willy and his interactions with Ben, and his total belief that Ben is a hero. He believes that his boys should be like Ben, which proves that he believes in Bens own self-centered morals about how to get ahead. Ben is such a significant presence in the novel because Willy is constantly chasing him; he is constantly running to catch up to his brother. Even when Ben is just an hallucination in Willys mind, Willy believes in him fully. Ben allows for Willys character to develop.