Attitude Toward Women
Even though in today’s society women play a major role in just about every career available, such acknowledgement hasn’t always existed. When Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller was written women played a totally different role. During this time period men have always been favored and believed to be superior of woman; still existing in such a way in some third world countries and even in Latin communities. In this story Miller tends to portray women in two different categories: the whores and the housewives.
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In this play Miller portrays women as extremely disrespected and merely used as sex slaves. The main female character, Linda Loman, is the typical wife of the early 20th century. She is there for her husband to offer her full support no matter what decision he makes. She is portrayed as being a patient, tactful, and considerate wife by showing her husband the lovely gesture of taking of his shoes to make him more comfortable. Willy even states that Linda is his “foundation and [his] support” (Pg #). Also Willy doesn’t seem to fully appreciate the wife he has.
Whenever Willy complains about his arch supports killing him, Linda responds by telling him to “[take] an aspirin” and even goes as far as to ask him if she should get it for him, so it can soothe him ( Pg #). Yet Willy just ignores her suggestion and continues on with his story about him being fine while driving and observing the scenery. That conversation brings a dismissive attitude towards Linda. She does everything she can to fulfill her husband’s needs, yet she doesn’t receive the same treatment. Linda seems to be accepting of the role she plays in the Loman household.
Miller portrays her as a very gullible woman who believes that her husband will provide everything she needs. That’s why when Biff finds out that his father has been having an affair with another woman he hides it from Linda, because he knows that such news would devastate her. Also this woman that Willy is having an affair with has the illusion that Willy will leave his wife for her. Apparently Willy is just using her as a sex slave because no matter what he always comes back to his wife and sons. Miller uses this woman along with two other women, Miss Forsythe and her friend, as sexual slaves, or whores.
Due to the father figure that Happy has, he is bound to treat women the same way. Happy only cares about fulfilling his sexual need and does not want to be tied down in anything serious throughout his young age. (Pg#) So when he meets Miss Forsythe, he immediately puts his charm on and invites her to cancel on her date and join him later on that night for dinner. Even though he does not care anything for her he orders her to follow his suggestion because he knows that she can’t deny the fact that this charming man is trying to “meet up” with her later on that night.
He also orders her to bring a friend so they can accompany him and his brother, Biff, as well as his father who would later be showing up to the dinner invitation, but have an early leave. The simple fact that she accepted and showed up to this “dinner” gives him the satisfaction of having power of these women. It can be assumed that Miss Forsythe along with her friend are both whores, and will later fall under the charm of Happy and give him sexual pleasure. (Pg #) Also in Act 1, both Biff and Happy, talk about women as trophies, or badges of honor.
This seems to be the general attitude of men towards women, one of arrogance. As well as being ignored by her husband at certain times, Linda is not allowed to give her opinion unless Willy asks her, which based on the play it hardly ever happens. Linda tries to give her opinion on the whole Swiss/American cheese incident. Willy asks her why she got American instead of the Swiss cheese that he so ever liked. When she responds that maybe he would like the change he cuts her off and yells at her stating that he doesn’t want a change, and all he wanted was Swiss cheese.
He even goes as far as saying that the room stinks and orders Linda to open the windows. Due to all his anger, he doesn’t realize that the windows are open, and Linda takes all this with infinite patience (Pg #). Anytime she tries to give her opinion she is always interrupted or she is shut down by her husband. Linda’s intelligence only goes as far as that of Willy’s because the man of the house is supposed to be the smart one.
Being influenced by society she is always on the outside looking in. When she is around her sons her insight on things is clear but when she is around her Willy her vocabulary diminishes to, “Yes Dear. or “What, Dear? ” In conclusion women may be considered a minority and not be acknowledge as capable of making any decision, such as Linda is. At the same time they can bring a great deal of power to this society, which as of today, has been proved very efficient. On the other hand, not much has change on the whole perspective on women used as sex slaves. As of today women are still giving sexual favors to many single and married men. Such things have not change but yet nothing in life ever changes completely.