Feminist Analysis Death of a Salesman
What’s great about this play is gives us insight into the past and focuses on an average family and provides lots of material to do a feminist analysis of. The most prominent woman figure in this play is Linda, but the male characters in this play also give us insight into women’s roles and help feed the feminist analyses To get us started, how do the roles and identities of women in this play compare to that of the male figures?
Objectivity of women
Biff and Happy
-“Take those two we had tonight, now weren’t they gorgeous creatures?” -“it gets like bowling, I just keep knockin’ them over and it doesn’t mean anything” -“a girl, y’know, they always believe what you tell ‘em” (27) -Biff was seen as successful in Willy’s eyes when he made the girls swoon in high school -Could this be influenced by Willy and their upbringing or are they just a product of their time? -They see women as achievements: When Biff and Happy are talking Happy says how he’s not happy currently because he wants “his own apartment, a car, and plenty of women” (23)
Women Don’t Have Identities
-“The Woman” that Willy has an affair with doesn’t have a name, she’s always laughing and really sexual.
He slaps her butt ad she laughs and thanks him for the stockings.
She picked him because he was “sweet” and “such a kidder”. She says “I’ll put you right through to the buyers?” SLEEZE. -They see their mother as the epitome of what a woman should be – The only interaction Linda has with other woman is calling them whores, after Biff and Happy leave Willy at the restaurant and she’s angry says “did you have to go to women tonight? You and your lousy rotten whores!”
What do you guys think about the character development of Linda throughout the play? Do you think she is an example of a strong or weak woman? She knows that Willy is suicidal, tries to protect him from other people, and does not lose her temper with him when he acts horribly towards her -We never know more about Linda other than that she does the laundry, cares for her boys, and knows the finances -In the beginning I found it annoying how all she did was take off his shoes, put on his jacket, eager to please him. Only portrayed as a wife and mother, less dimensional than the other characters. -Does this take away from her character development?
-Her goals are measured by Willy’s achievements
-Linda is desexualized
Treatment of Linda/Relationship with Willy
-Willy is commanding to her “swiss cheese”
“You’re my foundation and my support Linda”
-Willy does not let Linda talk “don’t interrupt” (62, 64-65) READ -Biff defends her from Willy but she defends Willy, then Biff says “Don’t go making excuses for him, he wiped the floor with you. He never had an ounce of respect for you (54-55) -Biff and Happy objectify girls (20 + 21) Also, “gorgeous creatures”, ‘it’s like bowling” (23-24) -Linda says” I’m not your maid anymore”
-Described by Happy as having “character and resistance” which is a quality he wants in a woman, unlike the ones he’s been with -Whenever Willy is upset about something she just sugarcoats his flaws and compliments him (37) do you think we just know something she doesn’t, or is there other motivation for her to do this?) -Seems like the first time she ever voiced her real opinion (57) about how Happy and Biff are ungrateful towards Willy -What is the purpose of her character? So that women of the forties could empathize with her situation more
Seen as negative or positive? Doesn’t lead to happiness.
Happy and Biff “raise cattle, use our muscles, men built like us should be working out in the open (24) Uncle Ben
Willy always refers to how their appearances make them well liked “guys built like us should be working a farm” “a man who can’t handle tools is not a man. You’re disgusting” (44) to Charley “thank God you’re built like Adonises” God of beauty and desire
MORE SUBTLE EXAMPLES I NOTICED
When Howard’s wife goes to talk to the recording device she has nothing to offer, as opposed to his son and daughter who wouldn’t shut up his daughter whistles, his son names the capitals of states, his wife says “I can’t think of anything…hello? Oh Howard, I can’t talk into this….” (78) She could have just been shy, she doesn’t have a name, she is known as his wife
Connect Howard’s wife’s role to Linda’s role? This is our chance to see a family woman other than Linda, do you think this serves a purpose, not matter how subtle it may be? Linda is content without adventure, she didn’t want Ben to encourage Willy to go to Alaska (95) Linda is overshadowed by her boys who go out and pursue things.
Arthur Millar shows us the restraints of sexuality as well individuality in this play. Just like Willy Loman struggles to find his place socially and struggles economically, Linda is restrained by her gender.
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