Biff and Charley are used by Miller as a vessel for his conclusion about Willy in the Requiem. Charley said that the reason why nobody went to Willy’s funeral was that “It’s a rough world, Linda. They wouldn’t blame him. ” The words “blame him” are repeated from the previous sentence by Linda. This repetition makes Charley’s declaration sound insincere, as though he is merely trying to comfort Linda and shelter her from the truth that Willy was not “well liked”. Biff then says, “Charley, there’s more of him in that front stoop than in all the sales he ever made.
” Here Miller is airing his views that Willy had the wrong dreams and ambitions, using Biff as a vessel to air his sentiments. The great irony of the play is the fact that only once Willy is dead, is it realised that he had been chasing the wrong dream. When Biff makes this conclusion in the Requiem he gives the passage an air of finality and appears to be wrapping up the play. When Charley repeats that nobody should blame Willy for dreaming he uses the word “dast”. This gives his speech biblical connotations and therefore an air of authority.
The change in register from colloquial to formal emphasises the fact that Willy should not be blamed. The colloquial register used for most of Charley’s speech such as “a salesman is got to dream” gives it a patriarchal feeling towards Willy. The poetry and metaphors used in Charley’s speech, for instance “riding on a smile and a shoeshine” make us share Willy’s romantic conception of the American Dream and therefore the audience can relate and empathise with Willy even though they know his perception is far from reality. Charley
can be seen as a choric figure in the Requiem as he airs the audiences feelings and acts as a narrator in explaining Willy’s motives for his actions. The Requiem also emphasises the change in direction of the two boys, as their relationship deteriorates Happy as usual refers to his own physique, “I’m not licked that easily,” and “I’m gonna beat this racket” he says as though he is physically challenging Biff. It is clear that Biff’s character has matured throughout the play in contrast to Happy as he does not respond, merely saying “let’s go, Mom”.
This sentence has an air of finality as though he has given up on Happy. In the final stage directions the flute music is heard again. The sound of the flute highlights the claustrophobia of the apartment blocks and the lack of freedom in the city. Biff follows the music of stage emphasising his longing for an ethereal other world. Miller uses the Requiem to conclude his play and sum up Willy’s character while also trying to get a message across to the audience that Willy’s plight was not his fault but that of society’s, and that the American Dream is not actually suitable for the majority of people.