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The Role of Linda in Death of a Salesman

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Katie Madonia

on 28 May 2015

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Transcript of The Role of Linda in Death of a Salesman

The Role of Linda in "Death of a Salesman"
Throughout this seminar I will be discussing the role of Linda in the play
Death of a Salesman
Linda is the wife of the main character Willy Loman and is the mother of Biff and Happy Loman.
Linda can be seen as a devoted wife and constantly supports Willy in order to protect his illusions/dreams.
Linda is a critical character in the play and is very important in order to develop the themes in the play.
The role of Linda in the play
Death of a Salesman
is to...
protect Willy's illusions and dreams in order to prevent his suicide (sympathetic to Willy)
help develop the theme of betrayal and infidelity
act as an ideal housewife who does not question her husband (his whereabouts & lies) and to remain loyal/devoted
This photo is an example of an ideal housewife in the 1950s. In the 1950s, women were expected to do everything their husband desired and submit to them by following all orders. The reader catches a glimpse of this throughout analyzing the relationship between Willy and Linda.
Argument 1
Throughout the play it becomes evident that Linda protects Willy at all costs and supports his dreams even though they seem unachievable.
Linda even acts as though she believes in Willy's illusion and does so in order to protect his ego and downfall.
When Linda finds the gas tube in the basement and recognizes that her husband is trying to commit suicide, she goes as far to blame her sons Bif and Happy in order to protect Willy.
She acts very sympathetic for her husband especially when he is in the midst of his downfall into depression and when he is fired from his job.
Quote #1
An important quote that displays the protectiveness Linda has for her husband Willy is when she is talking to Biff and Happy very angrily and explaining that they have to treat their father better...

"Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person. You called him crazy-" (Miller 56).
Analysis of Quote #1
This quote displays how Linda will choose to defend Willy even though her sons have brought up valid arguments as to why their father is becoming crazy
Linda will do anything to protect Willy's dreams and illusions (Biff working as a business man being a major dream of Willy's) in order to prevent his decline into depression
Even though Linda understands that these dreams are unattainable, she constantly defends them in order to protect Willy
Linda shows that her role is to protect and defend Willy no matter what the situation may be.
Quote #2
Another quote that is important in analyzing Linda's sympathy for her husband is when she is having a conversation with Willy and feels so bad for him that she feels the need to compliment him...

Willy: "I'm fat. I'm very-foolish to look at, Linda.....But they do laugh at me. I know that."

Linda: "Darling..." .... Willy, darling, you're the handsomest man in the world-"
(Miller 37).

In this quote it becomes evident that Linda feels sorry for her husband and as a result feels she should boost his confidence and protect his ego.
Visual Introduction
Argument 2
The themes in the play are developed by certain important characters and the relationships they experience.
Linda and her relationship with her husband Willy helps to develop one of the most significant themes in the play-the theme of betrayal and infidelity
Willy's affair with "The Woman" develops the theme of betrayal and infidelity because he is going against his marriage and lying to Linda (reader does not know if Linda is aware of the affair)
Linda develops this theme due to the fact that her role in the situation is imperative in order for the theme to exist
It is betrayal and infidelity because Willy is committed to Linda through a marriage yet having an affair
Therefore her role in the play is to develop this theme and she does so significantly
Quote #3
The climax of the play is within this important quote which displays the theme of infidelity and betrayal. Biff is speaking to his father about how he is betraying Linda and as a result, this quote highlights how Linda develops this theme...

Willy: "She's nothing to me, Biff. I was lonely, I was terribly lonely.

Biff: "You-you gave her Mama's stockings!....
Don't touch me, you-liar!" (Miller 121).

Analysis of Quote #3
This quote is the climax of the play because it is the moment when Willy remembers the night in the hotel when Biff found out about his affair
Biff's first reaction to his father's affair involves Linda's well being which represents the importance her character and how it serves to develop this theme of betrayal and infidelity
Linda is the main reason for this theme in the play and without her relationship/marriage to Willy, the theme would not be as recognized
Argument 3
Linda can be compared to the ideal 1950s housewife because many of the characteristics of a housewife back in the day are reflected in Linda's character
Some of the characteristics that Linda possesses involves being a loyal, devoted wife who does that question her husbands lies or whereabouts
Linda never questions Willy when he lies or when he goes away for work and this is what makes her comparable to an ideal 1950s wife
Linda's main role in this play is to parallel a 1950s housewife and act as a devoted and loyal wife to Willy no matter what he may do

Quote #4
In this quote the audience can see how Linda does not question her husband even when he lies and says things that any person should feel the need to question...

Willy: "I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston".

Linda: ".....That makes your commission two hundred-my God! Two hundred and twelve dollars!"

Willy: "Well, I didn't figure it yet, but..."

Linda: "How much did you do?"

Willy: "Well, I-I did-about a hundred and eighty gross in Providence. Well, no-it came to-roughly two hundred gross on the whole trip".

Linda: "Two hundred gross. That's..." (Miller 35).
Analysis of Quote #4
This quote represents the role of Linda as an ideal housewife who does not question her husband and who remains loyal and devoted
Willy first says that he's made $500 and then he changes that to $200 all of a sudden and Linda doesn't even question him on it
She actually goes on to tell him that he's done very good
This is part of her role as an ideal housewife to not question his work or lies and to stay devoted even though what he has done may not be good
Important Scene
In this scene the audience can see how Linda supports her husband regardless of the fact that he is treating his sons poorly and acting crazy. She actually tells her son Biff to stop bothering Willy because she is protecting him and acting as a loyal and devoted wife.
Secondary Source
Class Activity
Kahoot Questions:

Search kahoot.it on your phone to participate in the activity!
"Although Willy calls Linda his "foundation and support, as indeed she is, he shows little respect or regard for her in the way that we see him treat her. He cheats on her and rudely tells her to shut up. What seems worse is that Linda accepts such treatment. She subordinates her life to Willy, shares his dreams, and appears to have none of her own." (Abbotson)

*Quote from Blooms Literature*

Analysis of Secondary Source Quote
Susan Abbotson observes Linda as a critical character in the play and shares a similar perception of her role as I have done in my seminar
Susan accounts for the fact that Linda submits to Willy's horrible treatment and in other words represents a 1950s housewife
She also accounts for the fact that Linda supports her husband and acts as his "foundation" just like my argument which states that she constantly protects him throughout his life
The way Linda defends Willy at all costs, her relationship and marriage to Willy, and her traits that cause her to be considered an enabler, represent the 3 significant roles she plays in
Death of a Salesman.
The three roles of Linda that are significant in the play include...
protecting Willy's illusions and dreams so that she can prevent his decline/downfall
helping to develop the theme of betrayal and infidelity in the play
and acting as an ideal housewife who does not question her husband and remains loyal and devoted
It is also evident that Linda sympathizes for Willy with regards to work and a lack of friends.
Works Cited
Abbotson, Susan C. W.
"Death of a Salesman."

Critical Companion to Arthur Miller:

A Literary Reference to His Life and Work,
Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 25 May 2015.

Miller, Arthur.
Death of a Salesman.
New York: Penguin, 1996. Print.

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