In the play, Death of a Salesman, Linda depicts the author’s view of women within this time. Linda was anxious in becoming the finest “housewife”. Her nature and disposition, even before she enters the play, is one of kindness, love and a deep admiration for her husband Willy, despite his faults. She took on full responsibility for herself and family. At this point in history the typical woman was viewed as a housekeeper and nothing more. In most of Linda’s sense she is viewed in or around the house. She is mainly found in the living room, bedroom, and kitchen throughout the play.
Often times her stage directions will be “carrying a washbin” or always retrieving what other character’s need. Stage directions within just the first few lines indicated that Linda was “taking off [Willy’s] shoes” for him. Linda was always working hard to keep the men around her happy and living in comfort. During this time this was a trait all women tried to fulfill. Linda’s relationship with Willy is the most obvious evidence of the view of women within this time. Willy is a symbol of the typical man who takes advantage of the women in his life and relies on them for comfort and support while giving them nothing in return.
Linda constantly refers to her husband as “dear” or “darling” while he shows her no mutual treatment of affection. She will constantly make excuses for Willy to hide his temperament and that shows her infinite patience. This shows that Linda is not willing to go against Willy in any way even if it was to stand up for herself, she will not go against his word. Every step Linda takes, is in order to make Willy feel comfortable, constantly complementing him saying “Willy, darling, you’re the handsomest man in the world”.
It is evident that the affection from a woman was much for present then that from the man. She is also seen constantly worrying for her husband and family, but not for herself. She will go out of her way to make sure Willy has everything he needs before he leaves the house and will remind him of small things saying “Be careful on the subway stairs” as if he was just a boy. The woman figure is presented as the one that must tend to everyone else’s needs and make sure that everyone else is well prepared.
The women are also views, as the one’s that keep the men in their lives back from pursuing a life beyond the home. When Willy longs to go out to Alaska for a life of adventure, Linda begs him to “stay with her and the children. ” Since the women are seen as such subservient wives who are entirely tied to the home, when Willy hopes to leave the comforts of home she attempts to convince him that everything around home can not get any better than what it already is. Not only will she respond this way to only Willy, but also for the sake of Willy she will react quite differently to her sons.
She shouts, “Don’t you care whether Willy lives or dies? ”. Even in the midst of trying to convince herself that Willy’s affair was not true, Linda will do anything to protect Willy. She demands her children to have respect just as she does towards Willy, whether it was respect deserved or not. The male figure is viewed as the selfish man who does not take consideration to the ones around them, taking complete advantage of every situation, treating there wives as toys and disrespecting them to the extreme and having affairs.
Linda is made to be a wife who at all cost, no matter what the situation, will always stay nothing but loyal to her husband. Miller suggests those women are not only to be submissive to men, but also truly have no identity apart from them. Therefore, in essence the men are seen to have ultimate control over every situation and the women in their lives while the women are intentionally submissive. A woman only has purpose in a man, yet she will “hold the man back” so he inevitably will resent her basically either way, woman is destined for a life trying to “work” for her husband’s “love. Linda was always limited to what she could do, along with what she said. Arthur Miller showed how one-dimensional a women’s life was just to prove she was worthy of a home and family. Linda was never granted the right to stand up for her self, and even if the opportunity was present it would have not been taken, do to disrespecting Willy in his home. During this time this was a trait all women strived to fulfill.