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Death of A Salesman

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Francesca Ambrosino

on 30 October 2013

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Transcript of Death of A Salesman

"Death of a Salesman"
Arthur Miller

The Role of Women
Francesca Ambrosino
This quote is said after Willy Loman silences his wife, Linda Loman, multiple times throughout the conversation, not allowing her to voice her opinion. Essentially what Biff is saying to Willy is that he doesn't like the fact that he yells at his mother. This quote ties in with the theme of the role of women because in the period which this book is set (late 1940's), a woman's opinion would not have been as important as a man. The fact that Biff says "all the time" suggests that this is a common occurrence in their household. This quote reveals to us that Linda is rather meek when she doesn't stand up for herself. Furthermore it also reveals to us that she is very obedient, which would have been expected of a woman at that time. It shows us that Willy is the authority in the house, and Biff, being the eldest boy, also has some say in his mothers treatment. This would have been quite common for a man to take authority over his wife. We see this behavior towards Linda throughout the entirety of the play, constantly telling her to "stop interrupting" and to "let [him] talk."
"I don't like you yelling at her all the time."
-Biff Loman
This quote is said when Linda is scolding her sons Biff and Happy Loman for leaving Willy alone at the restaurant. She says this right after kicking them out of the house. She begins to pick up the flowers she threw down, but stops and tells the boys to "pick up this stuff". Linda tells them that she will no longer be their maid, because they will no longer be welcome in that house. This implies another major role of women in that time period, as well as in this play: housekeeping. It is shown many times throughout the book that she is very hardworking, for instance when she "[waxes] the floor herself." This quote reveals to us that Linda has been both a hardworking mother and wife all throughout her marriage. Furthermore even though Linda is essentially the caregiver to her whole family, she is still not appreciated or respected. This is another prominent example of Willy's lack of respect for the women in his life. However it would have been expected of a woman to do this kind of labour at that time in that society.
"Pick up this stuff, I'm not your maid anymore."
-Linda Loman
This quote is said by Linda right after finding out that Biff only comes home for her and not for Willy when he visits. In this quote she is scolding him and essentially saying that her and Willy are a package deal; he cannot only love Linda. This is yet another example of how Arthur Miller shows Linda as the support in the family, as well as an extremely loyal wife. She is trying everything she can to mend the broken bonds between father and sons. More over, this is also showing us how women in that time period would not have the opportunity to be independent, and would have been expected to be unconditionally loyal to their husbands. What this quote is showing us, as outlined throughout the play, is that Linda essentially belongs to Willy. And this is exactly how Willy treats all the women he encounters, more like objects than people. Linda most often puts her husband before her children, shown when she says "he's the dearest man in the world to me." This reflects how women would have been expected to serve their husband, and carry out their wishes. We see throughout the play that Happy is following in his fathers footsteps, wanting to find "someone with character, with resistance! Like [Linda]." We are led to believe that he too will treat the woman in his life like Willy does, which is also shown when he says he sleeps with his bosses wives.
Biff, dear, if you don't have any feelings for him, then you don't have any feelings for me."
-Linda Loman
"You're my foundation and my support, Linda."
-Willy Loman
This quote is said at the beginning of the play, during the first conversation between Willy and Linda. It is used to give us a little bit of a character background, and show how the family runs. This quote is the most appropriate to my ideas on the role of women presented in this play. What Willy is essentially telling Linda is that she is his rock, and she is what is keeping him going. I have come to believe that Willy loves Linda, but uses her to ridiculous extents. Although Willy is meant to seem like the strong head of the household and the backbone to the family, he is really just a coward. It is Linda, though extremely obedient, and at times quite meek, who is the only one keeping the family together and the household in order. Willy's cowardice truly comes out when he wants to kill himself so Biff will have the money, and so that his son will truly honour him. If Linda were put in his situation, she would find a rational way to get the money, and prove herself to her sons. Willy cannot face the world without Linda, and he knows no matter what he does to her, she will be there for him. Even after Linda finds out about his suicide attempts, she still remains strong and doesn't tell him so as not to "insult him." This truly reveals how loyal and supportive a woman in that time would have had to been to her husband, no matter what.
In this quote Biff, Linda, and Happy Loman have got into a quarrel about Willy. Here Biff is telling Linda, after she has been standing up for Willy, that Willy has never had respect for her. He says this because he knows about the affair Willy was having with the woman in Boston. This idea of wiping the floor with her is seen all throughout the play. During the course of their marriage, Willy cheats on Linda, he lies to her, he disrespects her and he frequently yells at her. This is the overall idea of the role of women in Willy's life. He seems to think he can use them and walk all over them. Of course this would have been to social norm for women not to be as respected as men were. Not only does Willy treat Linda disrespectfully, but he also uses the woman in Boston for sex, and perhaps even to get sales with the business she is working for. Even after Biff makes this remark, Linda is still persistent to stand up for Willy. She loves him with everything she is, despite all the wrong he has done to her, and she is willing to sacrifice her dignity and accept the lack of respect just so Willy can feel he is fulfilling his place as head of the house. This reveals to us that the role of the emotional "punching bag" that was played by Linda in Willy's life, and would have been played by many other wives at that time who couldn't say differently. Willy took out on Linda what he couldn't cope with himself, because as previously mentioned, she was his support, and his foundation. This lack of respect for Linda may even be a direct reflection of the lack of respect he has for himself.
"Stop making excuses for him! He always, always wiped the floor with you. Never had an ounce of respect for you."
-Biff Loman
In the late 1940's in America, the role of women in society was very distinct, and was predetermined before she grew up, due to societal norms. Throughout Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" we are shown the roles that women were meant to play. All five quotes I have chosen represent the theme of the role of women illustrated in the play. We will see how Willy treats the women he interacts with, especially Linda, and what he reveals to the audience as her role in his life, as well as her role as a woman in that time period. This will reveal to us the lifestyle that women would have led in that society, and also what I think Arthur Miller wished to reveal about his characters. We will see that women of this time, shown prominently through Linda, were meant to be housekeepers, caregivers, loyal wives, responsible mothers, a foundation for the family, possessions to their husbands, and ultimately disrespected and unappreciated human beings.
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