Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Death of a Salesman (Bernard)

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In ‘Death of a Salesman’ written by Arthur Miller, Bernard is shown as a tremendously memorable character. Throughout the play, his contradictions to Biff, poor judgments of him and his parent- like personality are well presented. By using the character, Miller tries to convey the moral messages and develops an attention grabbing plot First, Bernard’s contradictory character compared to Biff, makes him memorable. Bernard is literally everything that Biff is not. Biff is a high school football star while Bernard is just an ordinary and unpopular student.

Biff is more likely to be immoral while Bernard truly worries and being realistic about him. For instance, Bernard says ‘Listen, Biff, I heard Mr. Birnbaum say that if you don’t start studyin’ math he’s gonna flunk you, and you won’t graduate. I heard him! ’ The quote shows Bernard is very aware of Biffs’ gloomy future and also somehow predicts substantially different futures of those two characters. The audiences may feel a sense of relief toward Bernard as he is the only one, who actually shows the real world and eventually becomes successful than any other characters in the play.

By using the character Bernard, Miller tries to convey the message of success has got nothing to do with the glorious past. In fact, Biff fails to seek his own career and live a life that is totally opposing to Willy’s expectations. Furthermore, the fact that Bernard was one of the underdogs makes the character memorable. In the play, most of characters did not expect Bernard to be prosperous and used to mock him with his sophisticated outlooks. A good illustration of this is when Willy says ‘That’s just what I mean.

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Bernard can get the best marks in school, y’understand, but when he gets out in the business world, y’understand, you are going to be five times ahead of him. ’ It clearly shows Willy’s pessimistic opinions to Bernard’s future. The phrase ‘five times ahead’ also portrays Bernard is treated as a sort of failure which is the most unlikely word to describe his future career. Mockeries about Bernard continue with other characters. For example, as he tries to find Biff and teach him some math, Happy tauntingly says ‘Let’s box, Bernard! ’ He makes fun of Bernard by looking his overly academic attitude.

Audiences feel a sense of sympathy toward Bernard due to harsh judgments on him. However as the play continues, they soon find out that Bernard is the only character who achieved triumph in the play. By using Bernard’s underrated pasts, Miller highlights the insignificance of judging and prejudice. Willy’s huge astonishments to sophisticated Bernard also supports Miller’s message. Lastly, Bernard’s realistic characteristics make him memorable. In the play, he is one of the few solid people. Unlikely to unstable Willy, Bernard approach the world in a more realistic way.

For example, he says ‘“Just because he printed University of Virginia on his sneakers doesn’t mean they’ve got to graduate him. Uncle Willy! The quote portrays Bernard’s sensible characteristics which attempts Biff to choose the right path. By mentioning ‘Uncle Willy! ’ Bernard also tries to change Willy’s ignorant attitude towards poor academic achievements of his son as well as his impracticable definition of success. His humble characteristics and giving some realistic advices to Willy also differentiate him from other characters. For instance, Bernard replies ‘How are you?

Good to see you. ’ as Willy enters his office. It strongly contrasts with Howard ruthless treatments that Willy has received. The audiences probably feel impressed to Bernard’s warm and sensible personality. Those personalities technically make Bernard to perform a parental role instead of overly idealistic Willy who just expects unrealistic dreams to happen. To conclude, Miller’s wide use of Bernard make the character very significant and memorable, Miller also use this character to convey his moral messages of success and judgments to audiences.

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Death of a Salesman (Bernard). (2017, May 09). Retrieved from

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