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Feminism in Death of A Salesman
Transcript of Feminism in Death of A Salesman
As we are analyzing the play it will be helpful to understand what feminism is.
Biff and Happy
Opinion is not valued
She does not stand up for herself
Linda is Willy's punching bag
Willy expects too much of Linda
Disregards her life
Location of most of Linda's scenes (Kitchen, bedroom, living room)
Linda doesn't even leave the house
Stage directions (taking off willy shoes)
Linda call's Willy "Dear" and "dearest" and the feeling is not reciprocated
Other feminist characteristics for the mistress
Lack of respect
Lack of personality
Ruins family conversations
Death of a Salesman & Feminism
Death of A Salesman
This play was written in 1948 when sexism was still very much a part of society and feminism not so much.
We are analyzing details and aspects of this play paying special attention to things we find support sexism and show the contrast in today's social standards and those of 60 years ago.
Before we start.
1894-Oxford Introduced "Feminism" as a word
However it wasn't until 1960 when WLM brought attention to feminism
Women's Liberation Movement started by setting a goal to get females from history the recognition they deserved, and evolved into fighting for recognition for females at the present moment
Study of women in society and their relationships with others. There are four main components to feminism. Gender Difference, Gender Inequality, and Gender Oppression, and Objectivity
• Gender difference studies the difference between both men and women in society
• Gender Inequality studies how men and woman are not treated equally, discussing the benefits men have over women and rarely the benefits women have over men.
• Gender Oppression studies how women are oppressed in many aspects of life, abused, and not given full potential to become the best they can be. Power is often a huge part of this argument.
• Objectivity studies the way men and even other women treat females as if they are not a human but an object or a tool. They are desensitized from any sort of emotion or right.
Characteristics of Sexism: Biff and Happy
Separates himself from women
Acts cold and shy with women
Push women away
Shows little or no interest in relationships
Has a tainted view on women from seeing his father's mistress
Uses women to achieve his motives
Lies to women to make them believe something different.
Uses women to make him feel better about himself
trying to bring him out of it
: Willy, dear, I got a new kind of American-type cheese today. It’s whipped.
Willy: Why do you get American when I like Swiss?
Linda: I just thought you’d like a change-
Willy: I don’t want a change! I want Swiss cheese. Why am I always being contradicted?
with a covering laugh
: I thought it would be a surprise
Willy: Why don't you open a window in here, for God’s sake?
with infinite patience
: They’re all open, dear.
Act 1 Page 17
All the women in the play
Better understanding of the time period
Women impact little to no impact on the play
Lack of characterization
Both of them do
not take relationships
with woman seriously
Like their father they
often cut off Linda, or
act as if she hasn't
said a word
Ignore Linda's ideas
and guidance, though
they will not always
listen to their father
now, when they
were growing up
him the most
Biff and Happy seem to represent the two sides of Willy Loman in many different ways. In terms of feminism Biff shows the fear and incapability to trust women, while Happy displays the habit of using them to attain other motives
The role of a mistress in any sort of narrative is never portrayed in a positive manner, nor in great detail.However in Death of a Salesman, the mistress is given the most minor character,even though she caused one of the main issues in the book.This mistress is a great example of what the Women's Liberation Movement started out trying to fight for. Recognition for women and their actions and effects on the past and future.
Using the four characteristics of feminism, this can be used as a great example of gender oppression and gender difference.
Not giving the mistress the chance to defend herself for her actions
Not giving the mistress the recognition (even though it isn't positive) to show how she affected Biff's future
When Biff finds out, the father finds way to blame the mistress- it was her apartment that was being painted...
The mistress was barley talked about in the novel despite the fact that she had a huge impact on Biff and the future, yet Biffs old boss who barley had an impact on him was talked about in length
Even though Willy was equally responsible for the affair it was the woman who was shamed at the confrontation and who was made to look greedy and other negative traits
The two women at the restaurant
Just like the mistress, one of the women at the restaurant didn't even have a name
Miss Forseythe, the one who did have a name had only one purpose, and that was to show the skills Happy had at being a womanizer and his charm.
Similar to the mistress once again, neither one of them had a huge role. They both had only a handful of lines
Biff and Happy decided when they were to leave the restaurant.
In terms of the four elements of feminism the women at the restaurant were great examples of objectification and gender inequality.
Miss Forseythe had a purpose and it was only to help Happy not anything for herself.
Not only was Miss Forseythe supposed to do something for Happy- she received nothing in return sending the message that it was her job.
Discussion Question #1
What elements of feminism do you think each of the boys are demonstrating?
Discussion Question #2
Do you think mothers and
fathers you know have a
relationship like this? Would
the those women let the man
talk like this?
Discussion Question #3
Has the typical "Mistress"
character been altered since
this time period?
Discussion question #4
Out of all four examples which
one do you think is the strongest
argument that feminism is a strong
idea communicated through the novel?
Linda: You are, Willy.The handsomest man. You've got no reason to feel that-
Willy, coming out of the Woman's dimming area and going over to Linda: I'll make it up to you, Linda I'll-
Linda: There's nothing to make up, dear. You're doing fine, better than-
Willy, noticing her mending: What's that?
Linda: Just mending stockings. They're so expensive -
ACT TWO PAGE 119
ACT TWO PAGE 113